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A cautionary tale

By Lincoln Myers

 Sunity Maharaj, in her article, “A Beautiful Thing”, (Sunday Express, August 17) points to the opportunities  for deep and meaningful discussion on constitutional reform created as a result of the firestorm of public anger over both the contents of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill and the way the Government brought it to Parliament, literally forcing it down the throat of the House of Representatives in a marathon session lasting some 18 hours.

To grasp these opportunities, she advises: It is not enough to just take a side or be blinded by loyalties. We need to gather in groups and read through the PM’s bill, read the various reports on Constitution reform—from Wooding to Ramadhar, talk to each other and clarify our thoughts in making up our own minds.
 
I endorse this advice fully but will add the age-old allegory “The Spider and The Fly” to that reading list. This is a potent cautionary tale which I believe will greatly assist in helping to clarify our thoughts and in making up our minds on constitutional reform, particularly with respect to the PM’s bill that is currently before the Senate.
 
It is in this spirit that I include this poem/fable as a service to public education at a time when we need to seriously reflect on the future or our democracy.

The Spider and The Fly: A Fable
“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “To ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the spider to the fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed.”

Said the cunning spider to the fly, “Dear friend, what shall I do,
To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome; will you please to take a slice?
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “kind sir, that cannot be;
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see.”

“Sweet creature!” said the spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment dear, you shall behold yourself.”
I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,
And bidding you good-morning now, I’ll call another day.”

The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly would soon be back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with the pearl and silver wing:
Your robes are green and purple; there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead.”

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily flattering words, came slowly flitting by. 
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her crested head— 
Poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlor; but she ne’er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.
(Author: Mary Howitt)

Lincoln Myers is a former government minister
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