08:49:41 am on
Sunday 24 Oct 2021

Lemmings at the Gate
AJ Robinson

When I was a kid, one of my favourite television shows was Kimba the White Lion. I didn’t even know it was considered an early Japanese anime like Astroboy. All I knew was that it was about animals in Africa; Kimba was pure white; he tried to help the animals live together in peace.

Many episodes were memorable.

There were many great episodes. I remember some of them well, even after all these years. I was thinking of one episode, recently, as it seemed appropriate for our times.

A herd of antelope comes charging across the countryside. Kimba and the other animals are mystified as to what’s up with them. They sure seem intent on getting some place quickly, as they don’t stop to eat, drink or even chat.

Daniel, a friend of Kimba and his mentor, takes him to see Methuselah. As the name implies, Methuselah is the oldest animal in the forest and lives a quiet life in a shadowy part of the forest. Methuselah tells Kimba and Daniel the antelope are essentially lemming-like creatures.

Occasionally, they get it into their heads to run to the sea. Nothing and no one can stop them. Once at the sea, they throw themselves into the water and drown; the whole herd does this.

Well, Kimba, as reining monarch of the jungle, decides to try to save them from themselves. He knows where the antelope are going, but he and his animal friends get there first and build a kind of reverse dam. Instead of holding water back, it keeps the antelope from the water.

It’s less than successful. The herd crashes into it with such force that it’s knocked down. The antelope race into the sea, Kimba and his friends rush to re-build the barrier; their efforts so startle the remaining antelope that they get scared off.

Thus, Kimba saves some of them. Unfortunately, when trying to save people from their own stupidity, sometimes that’s all you can hope: to save a few. Most of the herd slips past you.

Anti-vaxxers slip by.

That’s kind of the way I feel these days about the anti-vaxx crowd. Last Sunday, while out with the family for breakfast, we ran into a man who screamed “Trumpster,” in his appearance. No mask, had no intention of getting vaccinated and felt the only reason Jo Ann got COVID, she told him she had it, was because she obviously had underlying health issues.

As we went to our table, all I could do was sadly sigh and shake my head. I had to wonder: even if he didn’t get it, what about the people in his life? Did he have kids? What about elderly parents or family members?

I try so hard to care for people like him, but it gets harder and harder each day. I live in Florida. We have a very high rate of people refusing the vaccine.

Our governor, as I’ve made clear in past articles, is pandering to the Trump base. He hopes to curry their favour in the coming elections. As a result, we have a lot of people in the hospital and more and more of them are children.

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s worth it. Should I just give up and let them “run into the sea”? Yet, I find I can’t. No, it seems those life lessons Kimba and his friends taught me stuck rather deep in my psyche. As much as I question its value, I’m going to join Kimba and the others to re-build the barrier.

Because of the effort.

After all, as Daniel points out at the end of the Kimba episode, it’s only because of their efforts that at least some of the antelope survived. Maybe I can help our modern-day equivalent. We shall see.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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