Addendum – Escalation

Once, near the end of winter, Nin visited a populous, bustling, successful warren. He had heard many great tales of the warren’s wealth and splendour. And when he visited the burrow, he indeed saw these things – intricately carved tunnels, gilded floors, fresco walls.

As he was admiring the expertly dug burrows, a small, timid bunny came up to him. “A beautiful warren, is it not?” they asked Nin.

“Indeed,” replied the rabbit prince. “A colossal work; the culmination of the toil of many generations. You should be proud.”

“Alas, I cannot be proud of my home,” said the timid bunny. “This warren was dug deep into the bank of a river. Now, every spring, when the rains come and the river swells, the burrow floods, and those living in the lowest levels of the warren drown.”

“A great injustice,” replied Nin. “Surely, a warren as great as this must have already posted tender for construction and restoration. The wheels of righteousness are in motion. I have no doubt this issue will be quickly corrected.”

“You misunderstand,” said the timid bunny. “This is not a new problem. The river has not suddenly shifted; the climate has not changed. The flooding has been a reoccurring problem since the very founding of this great burrow.”

“And nothing has been done?” asked Nin. “Why not?”

The timid rabbit shook their head sadly. “Only a small number of rabbits live in the lower depths, where the water collects,” they said. “Those above are blind to the problem, for they stay dry. Stay awhile, and observe, and you will come to understand.”

So Nin joined the young bunny and their group of protesters. At first the rabbits protested quietly, in the public square. They spoke eloquently of the injustice of the structure and design of the burrow. They did not lay blame, they only sought to fix the problem that plagued them.

“We must alter the course of the river!” the protesters cried. “We must reinforce and weather-proof the warren! Not just for ourselves, but generations hence! Hear us! The job is too big for us alone – we must all come together to right this wrong.”

They were quiet, and respectful and peaceful. A few called them dreamers, or scoffed at them. “The warren has already been built,” said some dismissively. “It cannot be changed.” Others blamed the protesters themselves. “If you don’t want to get wet, simply don’t live on the lower levels.”

“But we have nowhere else to go,” cried the protesters.

They met with some sympathy and compatriots, but overall, the vast majority of warren-dwellers simply hopped along like they always did, and paid very little attention to the protesters and their ills.

“Rabbits will overlook an injustice until they are forced to confront it,” observed Nin. “Because the public were given the option to ignore the protesters, they have done so.”

Time passed. The sun shined, and the first warmth of spring could be felt. In the hollow of the burrow, they could hear the thick ice of the river begin to crack.

The protesters were forced to escalate their tactics.

They blocked popular tunnels, organized sit-ins and thumped the ground with their feet. Never were they violent. They simply sat and occupied the public space, interrupting the daily flow, the patterns and routines of the warren-dwellers. The protesters forced the public to pay attention to them.

And it worked – now they were no longer ignored – now the protesters were publicly condemned. They were labelled nuisances, troublemakers and disturbers of the peace. A rabbit is a busy creature with many destinations to hop to – and these rabbits were disrupting that hopping.

Yet still the protesters’ concerns were dismissed. They had unintentionally given the public something else to latch onto – the noise and disruption they caused. There was much ado and paw-wringing and public debate about how to properly quell the protesters.

And all the while the looming threat of the flood was dutifully ignored.

“When pricked by a thorn, they hate the thorn,” observed Nin. “But they do not think of the many years the nettle-bush has been allowed to grow unabated. They only care about the immediate cause of their pain, not the cause behind that cause.”

Soon the spring rains began. Every day the river swelled a little more. Cold water began to weep through the chiselled walls of the old warren, a pervasive damp clung to the lower burrows.

Now the protesters were desperate. They kicked in tunnels, fouled burrows and vandalized the warren’s great splendour. The warren itself was their enemy, so the warren itself they destroyed.

They were met with disdain and open hostility. The issue of the imminent flood had been completely forgotten, the public knew not of the protesters’ struggles, only the destruction they caused.

A vicious and brutal police crackdown began. Bunnies were beaten in the streets.

Finally, a certain rabbit, in a fit of maddened determination, kicked away at a marble keystone. The stone was loosed, and a flood of water rushed into the warren. It washed away the chiselled walls, it washed away the gilded floors. All levels of the warren suffered, from the deepest depths to the highest dens.

It was only then – when together, all the rabbits of the warren sat huddled, wet, shivering with cold – that they agreed, by unanimous consensus, to fix their broken home.