Well there’s been this myth going around since the Middle Ages that lemmings suicide en masse. Maybe it’s a metaphor for what humans are capable of when they’re mobbing. And with humans, anything is possible. And the cabal of lemmings in this little yarn are uncannily like humans when it comes to fear. They do things human mobs do – strange things. And living among this mob is a young rebellious lemming named Lenny, who has grown in his mind serious doubts over the wild and dramatic mob practices his fellow lemmings engage in. And yes at times lemming life in these parts can be terrifying. Insecurity is rife, and it’s too much for the disturbed lemming element. And when panicked they morph into a lemming mob, being one in, all in, and head off into the wilderness, where as one they deal with it. Why is this so, Lenny has been asking himself. Why do they act like a mob when things get tough and troubling? And not only that, when a whole lot of them disappear, almost overnight a new lot are running about their clearing helter skelter as if nothing bad had ever happened! Populations of them! Lenny questions this behaviour at community meetings; nervously at first, but with courage and conviction, his ripening voice has become very loud lately. How wrong can this lemming mob behaviour be? And can one mere lemming like him stop it? And are there other lemmings in his community who feel the same way he does? And if so what is there to be afraid of?
Pretty serious and challenging questions which, as you might imagine, is a threat to this community long used to an entrenched and conservative set of rules. Dissent is not good. In fact what is dissent? The lemming community’s answer is simple. No radical rogue like this upstart Lenny can tell them, ‘lemmings-as-likely-as-the-mob’, what to think and do. It’s just not on. If they choose mob action, well, that choice is their collective conscience long laid down by tradition, and as every lemming understands, one in means all in, just like in unions. And mob action is a choice, and ‘we always choose it’ they say in meetings, because ‘we lemmings are the very best at it’.
There hasn’t been a lemming like Lenny before. Even before he began his questioning his voice was very loud. Not long after his voice broke Lenny practiced his loud vocal cords at lemming bonding sessions. Some reckoned he’s a future leader. But now the vehement cry of all is for one and one is for all he shared with the others is less apparent. The once vocal Lenny is now seen sneering in the background. There he is with spiky hair and safety pinned whiskers, prancing about like he’s the Ace of Spades. Pah, as if he’s got something to say! So what if lemmings overpopulate when on the verge of extinction. But Lenny’s got too smart for the first and there’s no way he’ll be doing the second, and well, that’s it, there isn’t a way to stop him. He’s gonna bang on about what’s wrong with lemmings, over and over and over. Lenny’s not a mob lemming, and he thinks he’s smarter than all the other lemmings. And well, their shared brain might be bigger than his. But for now, there doesn’t seem to be a way to get him back in with the mob. Or is there?
You see Lenny lost his mother to a predator recently and he still grieves for her, although the way this cocky punk’s carries on, laughing and sneering at the mob, you wouldn’t know it. An observation of Lenny’s vulnerability was made by the lemming elder, the self proclaimed leader of the community, mainly because all members of the community are related to him, including Lenny. The elder, who goes by the name of Shad Owe, convened a meeting of other elders and together they came up with a plan to bring Lenny back into the community. What he needed they agreed was love, lots and lots of community love. So much love he’ll be overwhelmed, and then he’ll lose his potent individuality and humbly return to us and us and us.
It was subtle at first. Lemmings that Lenny still liked came to him showing an interest in what he had to say. They gained his confidence by listening to him without judgment, and they displayed their affection by nipping at his fur and making playful swipes at his safety pinned whiskers. They spoke of his mother in glowing terms, and said how much he was like her. Lenny was suspicious of this attention, especially since these considerate lemmings were also covered in safety pins. Are they for real? Maybe they are mocking him. What’s going on, thought Lenny. And why are they telling me how good I am, and that they love me! Over and over they’re telling me, and all awhile they smile. O how they say they love me!
And they persisted and other lemmings joined them. All smiling and happy, sniffing the witnessing ground as they go. We Love you Lenny they cried. We’d Love You to Love Yourself. It’s All You Need Lenny. Love Love Love. All of the day and all of the night. Weeeeeee love you Lenny. We really do. These lemmings came to Lenny in a straight line, so as to not crowd him. Lenny couldn’t resist and he mooned them, because they seemed so stupid, but that didn’t stop them. They kept on coming, showering their love and praises over him. Their golden words flattered him, their attentions increasingly affectionate; their concerns awesomely compassionate. And by continually mobbing him they wore him down. He couldn’t just clear out, that would be too risky, because he was just a little lemming, a cute rodent with an attitude, but no good on his own in the nearby sub arctic wilderness.
What the community wanted was Lenny’s assent. And after more love bombing Lenny realised that by giving assent to his community it empowered him. He can be individual, but for what the community wants. He’s been testing it with his confronting behaviour but the community remains strong; it’s just that sometimes it forgets how powerful and nurturing it has to be. Even Shad Owe is now saying this at community meetings. And it’s not that Lenny is completely washed out with all this love. Rather it is a mob confidence that has returned to Lenny; before he got the big idea, the one that questioned the very soul of this lemming mob.
And again this lemming community became united to stand and united to fall. And just in time because an unknown fear began sweeping through the community. Some kind of panic has set in, and it’s something that’s really spooking the lemmings. There’s something out there, something menacing, calculating, destructive. And by this time Lenny, having been well love bombed, is also sensing this fear. What they feel so now does he. His body is returned to the mob, his mind as well. And it appears that an intangible doom is at hand. But what kind of doom? Shad Owe is now saying, run. He says it is too late for defensive violence. The unseen fear is everywhere. Each lemming must run with one and another, and together they must escape it.
So now Lenny is running with the mob. They run over hill and dale, through stream and along river bank. A few drown. And while they are running they are looking to end the problem of their mass fear. Maybe if they weren’t lemmings they might stand and find it, but they are, and they cannot. And when Lenny was out and about banging on about how stupid it was to run with the mob without thinking, beneath his bravado he was still afraid. He was fearful when he was being love bombed, and when he was mooning. And this is his dilemma. He was equally afraid of fear as a dissident as when he was a conformist. Lenny has realised there is nothing he will do that won’t contain fear.
Lenny’s still running. The chasing fear is close behind. They’re a fit lot these lemmings! For the size of these creatures they certainly have incredible stamina. The mob has been running for a few months now. There have been steady losses. And despite his age Shad Owe is still leading them. Lenny’s not too far behind. He’s been slowly working his way through the running mob. Not because he’s any fitter but because the two fears he’s feeling, one as an individual, and one as a member of the mob, drives him. He is doubly afraid, and his need to end this double fear is compounding. He has amazing energy. It won’t be long before he will pass Shad Owe and lead the mob. And to whatever end he might lead them it is going to be something else!