Taming: A Human Connection Metaphor
I ran across a fabulous illustration about the difference between human contact and human connection while re-reading The Little Prince.
In the story there’s a businessman who prides himself on being a serious and accurate man. He owns 501,622,731 stars, and he spends his days making numeric calculations about them. The little prince visits the businessman’s planet, attempts to engage him in a conversation, but is experienced as nothing more than a nuisance to the man’s star calculations.
The businessman (against his will) makes contact with the little prince, but does not actually connect with him.
And he owns the stars, but doesn’t actually know any of them.
Contrast this with the little prince’s encounter with the fox during his visit to Earth. The fox wants the little prince to tame him, and explains what this means:
(the little prince): “…What does tamed mean?”
“It’s something that’s been too often neglected. It means, ‘to create ties’…”
“’To create ties’?”
“That’s right,” the fox said. “For me you’re only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me, either. For you I’m only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we’ll need each other. You’ll be the only boy in the world for me. I’ll be the only fox in the world for you.”
The fox goes on to teach the little prince how to tame him, but first says some other brilliant things about taming:
“But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I’ll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music.”
“And then look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don’t eat bread. For me wheat is of no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you’ve tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I’ll love the sound of the wind in the wheat…”
Contact or connection? We have opportunities for both. And really, each have their place. However, the people who actually change our landscapes are the ones we’ve let tame us, and they us.