Once upon a time there was a baby alligator. He was born like other alligators are born, first in an egg, and then hatched by time and his mother. He had several brothers and sisters. If he knew how to count, he would have counted at least sixteen alligator brothers and sisters.
The alligators lived in a very large alligator community, which had been established for several generations. They lived in a swampy place, just outside of several cotton field that were run by a few cotton farmers, that had been there for just as may generations.
Despite speaking different languages, the alligators and the farmers had a mutual understanding. The alligators wouldn’t wander on to the farmer’s fields, and they wouldn’t get shot. The farmers (or more likely their curious kids) wouldn’t wander on the alligator’s neighborhood, and wouldnâ€™t be eaten.
Shortly after this young alligator was born, or hatched, there was a terrible storm. It hadn’t rained in quite a while, and both the farmers and the alligators were getting worried, for different reasons.
The farmers, of course, were overjoyed when the rains came, because it meant that years cotton crop would be particularly lush, which would get them quite a lot of money at the cotton marketplace.
The alligators weren’t so lucky. The rains came at a particular bad time of year. Baby alligator hatching season is a particularly precarious time on the alligator life cycle. The nests are especially vulnerable at this time, as the alligators are too weak to defend themselves, but the mother alligator has to leave them from time to time to get food. If the floods come during this time, it is all too easy for the baby alligators to get swept away and plucked by hungry birds.
Because of the extraordinarily heavy rains, the adult alligators didn’t fare much better. Before long, over half of the entire alligator community was wiped out by the floods, leaving many young orphans.
This young alligator suddenly found himself without a mother, and several siblings that he felt responsible for. He didn’t know how to hunt yet, and he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to provide for them.
One day he was out wandering around, wondering if he would even survive, let alone care adequately for his siblings. He came across a very old alligator, and asked him what he should do.
Young boy. Many have come before you that have faced much harsher conditions. They survived, and so shall you. You must not focus giving food to your siblings and your neighbors, for they must also learn how to fend for themselves. Fate has chosen you to be the next leader in the alligator community. And to do that you must not only provide, but also lead. Your actions will be an example to others. As you show others that you can get your needs met, they will also learn that they, too, can get their own needs met. As you show them that you can survive, they too, will realize they can as well. As you prosper, so shall they.
The young alligator, uplifted by this strange old alligator’s words, walked back to his nest, and rousted his siblings and his neighbors.
“Come!” he shouted.
“We have much work to do!” he turned and began to work. Everybody else followed, certain of their future.