A Tale of Two Colors
Once upon a time, in a fairy-tale forest, there was a community of owls. These owls had strict codes that dictated their lives. For instance, every decision was made through discussion among the community about what would best serve all of the community. Through these discerning discussions, the community agreed that green was the only color to paint one’s home. After all, they lived in a forest and green created wonderful camouflage from the foxes around them. The owls also agreed about the best times for the hunters to be out in the rest of the forest, who the best teacher was for the younger owls, and how much each owl home should save for the winter. The owls kept to themselves, and their community survived in safety and predictability.
But one day, a group of the owls wanted to paint their homes purple, use two teachers instead of one in the school, and hunt during the day. The community was in an uproar! “This is not how we do things around here!” became the gathering cry of the established members of the community. “You are acting like outsiders!” became the accusation against these troublemaking owls. The nonconformists tried to reason with the community:
Purple is a beautiful color that is rich enough to blend in with the twilight and early morning sky.
Two teachers mean that our young owls will learn to see both sides of an idea.
Hunting during the day allows us to spend more time with the young owls at night.
The two sides could not see eye-to-eye on these ideas that had once served as boundaries for their community. The green team, who began to be known as Good Green, refused to hear the reason in the purple team’s argument. Good Green, who had always held the power of decision in the community, began to suspect that Perhaps Purple wanted to take this power by any means necessary, putting the community at great risk. Good Green accused the purples of ignoring the community’s wellbeing and of being pow-hungry. After all, Good Green had led this community for a very long time, and things were going just fine. Perhaps Purple was just trying to stir things up and leave the community vulnerable.
Perhaps Purple continued to live in green houses (but they painted their living rooms purple), send their children to school with one teacher, and only hunt at night. They chose to stay in the community for the sake of their young owls, so they could have a sense of connectedness and history. However, the accusations never stopped. Soon, Perhaps Purple lived on the outskirts of the community and tried to avoid coming in to contact with Good Green at all costs, who grew more suspicious and crueler daily.
One day, over acorn soup, Perhaps Purple began to say out loud for the first time how miserable they had become living in the community. Green was beautiful but so was purple, and both had camouflaging significance. It was just so obvious that two teachers were better than just one. One Perhaps Purple owl confessed to having been secretly hunting during the day, and it was as perfect for their family as they had imagined. And then one brave owl asked the burning question: what if we built a community by our own rules?
Quietly, one family at a time, Perhaps Purple moved into a community where the houses were purple, blue, and green, the school actually had three teachers, and owls hunted both day and night. The foxes did find this community but mainly because they had the best schools in the forest, and the foxes wanted their little foxes to learn there. Perhaps Purple’s community thrived, and generations grew wiser.
But that first team of purples always felt the pain of being ostracized. They remembered the joy of wider, deeper community and the dissonance of different ideas being discussed as it led to sweeter, complex harmonies. The original Perhaps Purple owls quietly mourned what could have been while choosing to celebrate what was born out of their pain.