The Great Kapok Tree
Two men walked into the rainforest. Moments before, the forest had been alive with the sounds of squawking birds and howling monkeys. Now, all was quiet. The larger man stopped and pointed to a great Kapok tree. Then, he left.
Without stopping to think, the smaller man took the axe he carried and struck the tree. Whack! Whack! Whack! The sounds of the blows ran through the forest. Chop! Chop! Chop! The man wiped off the sweat that ran down his face and neck. Whack! Chop! Whack! Chop!
Soon, the man grew tired. He sat down to rest at the foot of the great Kapok tree. Before he knew it, the heat and hum of the forest had lulled him to sleep.
In the Kapok tree, there lived a boa constrictor, who slithered down the trunk to where the man was sleeping. He looked at the gash the axe had made in the tree. Then, the huge snake slid very close to the man and hissed in his ear: “Senhor, this tree is a tree of miracles. It is my home and where generations of my family have lived. Do not chop it down.”
Moments later, a toucan and a macaw flew down from the canopy and settled on the branches nearby. “Senhor!” squawked the toucan, “you must not cut down this tree. People set fires to clear the underbrush, and soon the forest disappears.”
After watching the birds fly away, a jaguar leapt from a nearby branch and padded silently over to the sleeping man. No-one had noticed him. The jaguar growled in the man’s ear: “Senhor, the Kapok tree is home to many birds and animals. If you cut it down, where will I find my dinner?”
That afternoon, many more animals visited the sleeping man and gave their reasons why the tree was important. Finally, a child from a nearby tribe knelt down by the man. “Senhor, you are chopping down trees with no thought of the future. And surely you know that what happens tomorrow depends on what you do today. This tree provides oxygen, shelter and food. Senhor, when you awake, please look upon us all with new eyes.”
Suddenly, the man awoke to a living audience, all of whom depended on the great Kapok tree. Sunlight streamed through the canopy and strange and beautiful plants seemed to dangle in the air from the great Kapok tree. The man smelled the fragrant perfume of their flowers, but he heard no sound, for the animals were strangely quiet.
Slowly, the man stood and picked up his axe. He swung back his arm as though to strike the tree. As quick as a blink, he stopped, turned and looked at the animals and the child. He hesitated. Then, he simply dropped the axe and walked out of the rainforest