The Jester and The Unicorn

A purple unicorn

A fable, sort of…

The jester who wanted to be king asked the crowd “Do you want a purple unicorn?”

Almost half the crowd said “We are happy as we are, and we don’t believe unicorns exist”, but slightly more than half said “Yes please, we’d love one.”

The king wanted his people to be happy, so the king’s men spent three years looking for a purple unicorn. They spent much of the kingdom’s treasure, and annoyed many of the kingdom’s friends, constantly asking for unicorns which they did not have, because unicorns don’t exist. Other realms laughed at the king and his kingdom, and important matters in the kingdom went without attention.

Eventually the king’s men came back and said “There are no unicorns. We’ve found a nice horse we can paint purple and glue a fake horn on its nose, will that do?”

All those who had never believed in unicorns said “told you so”. Many of the others said “OK, we agree”. But others were angry, blaming those who had never believed in unicorns. Some were so obsessed with the idea of a unicorn that they wanted to shoot all the horses, just so they would not get a horse painted purple with a fake horn glued to its nose.

A wise king could simply have stopped the search, saying “unicorns do not exist”. A wise king could have told the crowd “You may vote again. But just to be clear, unicorns do not exist, so you are voting for a horse painted purple with a fake horn glued to its nose.” But the foolish king thought that the only important thing was not upsetting those who wanted a unicorn, so the search continues…

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