The challenge of the cheetah

Well it seems that Tesco clubcard vouchers will get you anything these days.  Gone are the times when one point would get you a glorious penny off your shopping bill; for yesterday we got into a Safari park, paid for entirely on clubcard points.  Would you Adam and Eve it.


The multifarious species of exotic cattle trying to regale us into parting with our carrot sticks were all fine and dandy.  But I had bigger fish to fry.  I wanted to see the wolves.  The signposts warned that, were we careless, they would probably try to chew the wheels off our car, and that sounded interesting.  Or perhaps I wanted to see the tigers; the largest of all the big cats, surely ready to make a meal of the unwary traveller; maybe in my heart of hearts it was the rare white lions they had; the most exotic form of the king of cats, stalking their prey with merciless precision; or maybe, just maybe, the cheetahs, ready to take on whatever speed our measly 1.6 litre engine could throw at it in a desperate attempt to chase human flesh.  Whichever, it was all pretty exciting stuff.

Well, the wolves were nowhere to be seen.  The tigers sat on their platform, yawning at the dreary humans in their metal shells.  One of the lions had the decency to be gnawing a large bone, but I got the impression his heart wasn’t really in it.  And to cap it all, the cheetahs didn’t even move.  Of course, they knew we were all safely ensconced in our cars.  They’d probably learnt early on that energy spent trying to get people was energy wasted.  But still, the fact that their impressive might and speed and ferocity was not on display frustrated me.

“Why?” I silently cursed the cheetahs.  “If I had the power and speed you did, I wouldn’t sit lazing about all day.  I’d be running up and down at full speed just because I could!”

“So?” replied the cheetahs, “You’re no better.  You humans have the power to put an end to poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, injustice, disease, climate change… and what do you do with it?”

Well that put me in my place.

I went on to enjoy the giraffes, who fully deserved the rest of our carrots, and made no demands on my morals.

In the words of Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility…

© 2009 Paul Brownnutt

[Originally Published 14th August 2009]