The Tale of the Two Stripes
by Jace Daniel (b. 1969)
Once upon a time there were two parallel stripes, living alongside each other, edge to edge. For the purpose of our story, it doesn’t matter if they were red and white stripes, or black and blue stripes, or even plaid and calico stripes. What matters is that they were different.
The two stripes lived their lives as responsible stripes do, minding their own business, doing their jobs. Extending along the surface of their world, they each kept their focus straight ahead, without distraction, concentrating on being the best stripes they could be.
On one ordinary day, the first stripe looked to his left and saw the other stripe. Feeling as though he was being watched, the second stripe turned to his right to see the first stripe. They stared at each other for a moment.
“How’s it going?” asked the first stripe.
“Hanging in there,” replied the second stripe.
The first stripe looked the second stripe up and down, left and right. Noticing their striking differences, the first stripe asked an innocently prying question. “Why are you like that?”
“I was just gonna ask you the same question,” the second stripe laughed. “What’s your story?”
The first stripe answered, “I don’t know, really. I’ve always been like this. It’s just the way I am.”
“Good for me,” the second stripe noted, adding, “If you weren’t the way you are, I couldn’t be the stripe I am.”
The first stripe agreed. “What a boring, uneventful, homogenous world we’d live in if we were all the same, right?”
The second stripe nodded. “Without differences, there’d be no stripes.”
“True,” said the first stripe. “Without individuality, we’d have no purpose for existing. There’d be nothing unique. Nothing one-of-a-kind. Nothing new.”
“Exactly,” offered the second stripe. “It’s all relative. Variety is the spice of life.”
The two stripes paused for a few long moments, pondering their reality.
The first stripe concluded, “What’s interesting is that, as different as we are, we actually have very similar backgrounds.”
And that was that.