Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a sheep-herding village, and his job was often to watch the sheep on the hill where they grazed. One day, he was watching the sheep, and a wolf came by. Wolves are bad news for sheep, as they generally eat them. The boy ran into the town as fast as he could, screaming, “Wolf! Wolf!” at the top of his lungs.
All the people of the village came running out of their houses with their shotguns and their airhorns and they ran toward the hill, screaming and shooting into the air and blaring their airhorns. The boy laughed and laughed to see them all run.
There was no wolf on the hill. And after all the commotion, there were no sheep there, either. The villagers had to spend the whole rest of the day rounding them up. They were furious at the boy, who had clearly made up the whole thing.
The next day, the boy was on the hill watching the sheep, and the wolf came by again. So, the boy ran into the village screaming, “Wolf! Wolf!” at the top of his lungs.
The people of the village were dubious, yes, but they couldn’t afford to take any chances. They got their guns and their airhorns, and they ran toward the hill, and if their shouts and shots and blasts had slightly less conviction, they were still loud enough to scatter the sheep and send the boy into gales of laughter. And again, there was no wolf.
The third day, the boy was watching the sheep, and he saw the wolf again, and he ran into the village screaming, “Wolf! Wolf!” But this time, no one moved. “We don’t believe you,” everyone said. “You are always screaming wolf, so you are a liar.”
The boy went back up the hill, and the wolf stared at him. He stared at the wolf. The wolf ate a sheep. The boy stared at the wolf. The wolf stared at the boy. The wolf ate another sheep. The boy stared at the wolf. The wolf turned to go, and looked over his shoulder at the boy, and the boy followed the wolf into the deep woods, and neither of them was ever seen or heard from again.
The boy was right every time, of course. What the boy knew and the villagers couldn’t see is that there are always wolves, everywhere, and if ever a lone soul cries “Wolf!” and runs down from the cold hills and beats at every door, it is because he saw a wolf, and the wolf saw him. The wolves surround us on all sides, waiting, and if the villagers cannot see them, it is because they do not want to.