A Successful Rabbit

Nin had been dreaming of an old friend, and the falling out that had occurred between them—a friend he hadn’t seen in many a long year.

This friend had always been a free thinker and debater, one who revelled in discussion and playing devil’s advocate.

Nin had once considered their conversations to be important formative experiences. They introduced him to new points of view, and challenged him to really consider and contemplate his own beliefs. It often amazed Nin, back in those days, just how many of his convictions were based on nothing but hearsay and the common wisdom of the crowd.

Debate with this friend dragged his biases to the light, put them through the gauntlet of discourse, and any position that made it through the rigours came out all the stronger—better articulated, considered, reasoned.

Yes, Nin had considered this rabbit to be perhaps his closest friend. But eventually, something changed.

Almost overnight Nin’s friend became close-minded, and stubborn to a fault. He began to parrot only the simplest of talking points. He dismissed data that disagreed with his own beliefs. He became unwilling to reexamine his own positions.

Debates with him were no longer free and open discussions, where ideas flowed freely, where opinions could be shifted readily and often. No, they became stubborn shouting matches, where one’s only goal was to convince the other that they were right.

He’d stopped all forms of introspection, or any consideration that didn’t conform to his preexisting beliefs.

But why?

Nin’s friend had been elected to a certain, coveted position within the rabbit hierarchy. This position carried with it quite a bit of prestige. To obtain the position he had been subjected to a battery of tests gauging aptitude and intelligence. Nin’s friend was, by most standards, demonstrably, certifiably, smart and successful.

This had been the turning point. Having obtained a position that commanded respect, he no longer had any need for critical thinking. A strange circular logic had taken hold of him. He was successful, therefore his positions, beliefs and biases must have been correct—because if they weren’t correct, he wouldn’t have achieved his success.

What need had he to challenge his ingrained beliefs, if his beliefs had gotten him this far? The truth no longer meant much to Nin’s friend, only success, because, for him, success in life served as demonstration of his possession of truth.

It was a terrible feeling, knowing what had become of his debate partner. It made Nin question everything he thought he’d known about his friend. Had their debates meant as much to them as they had to him? Or had his friend been secretly laughing at Nin as the young prince struggled to build his core beliefs?

Was the pursuit of truth a mere game, the sport of children?