In the Big Cat Republic, deep in the wild jungle, two different types of animals live together. The lions and leopards generally get along well, often sharing dens and living happily ever after, and the laws call for them to have equal rights.
For generations immemorial, though, that had not been the case. Leopards had generally been considered inferiors, even by those in their own species. The Big Cat legal system reflected that, and lions enjoyed much more freedom. In particular, leopards were prevented, formally or strongly informally, from pursuing many ways of getting food, which the lions could do to the limits of their abilities and ambitions. Lions often convinced leopards that they were incapable of doing the things they themselves did, and, through tradition along with the strong inertia characterizing interspecies change, that remained the way for untold ages.
Relatively recently, though, they had had a revolution. When today’s elders had just finished their cubhoods, many leopards and a remarkable share of lions began publicly questioning the interspecies status quo. Leopards should be equal, they said. In a remarkably fast turnaround, laws were put into place, and, in far less than half of a normal leopard or lion lifespan, leopards were guaranteed the same privileges and opportunities as lions. In the Big Cat Republic, it became the law of the land that leopards could hunt or gather edibles in all ways allowed to lions.
Of course, after untold generations of tradition, not all lions or leopards internalized the changes. Many lions still tried to stop leopards from getting the food they wanted. When their actions were overt, they were found in violation of the law and penalized. Large numbers of leopards, themselves, had been reared in a different world, and continued acting as if they were limited, while others avidly pursued the food acquisition techniques denied to their ancestors. In the meantime, lions were not only free, but were still expected, far more than for leopards, to get as much food as they could.
As the interspecies revolution became solidified, lions and leopards wanted to know how they, compared to each other, were faring in general. Overall statistics showed that leopards, who were getting an average of two-thirds as much food as lions soon after the laws were changed, were still only at four-fifths half of a lifetime later.
Was this a problem, and if so, what was causing it? Lions and leopards disagreed within and between themselves, but predominant communication said that it must be because leopards were still being discriminated against. Other statistics, though, told a different story. More leopards than lions, the numbers said, made life choices to seek food in ways that were easier, safer, less stressful, more personally fulfilling, and gave them more time to do other things. Perhaps more than any other factor, many leopards sharing dens with lions continued to let them gather most of the food. As a result, leopards, again on general average, lived almost 10% longer than lions, something treated as a fact of life by both and never, even by lions, publicly cited as evidence of unfair treatment.
As the evidence became clear, and more and more lions and leopards with modern attitudes replaced those with others, did the Big Cat Republic animals make their peace with the issue and recognize the disadvantages and advantages accrued by leopards as mainly a matter of valid personal choices? Unfortunately not. Leopards with the rearing and preferences to point them toward being equal hunters with lions showed no understanding of why others were not the same – it seemed incomprehensible to them that many of their fellow country-leopards preferred to raise cubs, feed in less life-dominating ways, and depend more on lions. As a result, they continued publicizing the food gap and maintaining, despite the laws being firm and penalties severe, they as a species were still being heavily discriminated against. They were either unaware or not admitting that when equally prepared for and focused on getting large amounts of food, there was no statistical gap between them and similar lions. And many lions and leopards following this issue, as susceptible to logical fallacies as were certain tall simian bipeds, believed that, despite small and ever-shrinking amounts of true inequity against leopards (and not all Big Cat interspecies discrimination went in that direction), that was obviously the cause.
Will the good felines of the Big Cat Republic end this worry? I hope so. And if they do, maybe there is hope for Americans to properly understand earnings differences between the sexes.