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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

A Mantis Wants To Stop A Chariot

  1. FADE IN.

  2. Act 1


  4. Sitting on a sofa, PETER hears his WIFE yelling.

  5. WIFE: A mantis-fly has entered from the window!

  6. PETER (V.O.): Yes, she fears insects.

  7. Going to her rescue, Peter sees a green mantis-fly. He takes a photo it.

  8. Pausing.

  9. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I haven't seen a mantis for decades. How can it get here? Probably from the roof top.

  10. Recalling.

  11. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When I was a child, I caught mantises for our pet birds.

  12. Using a piece of paper, Peter attempts to convey the mantis-fly.

  13. WIFE (Cont'd): Set it free!

  14. Art 2


  16. PETER: It isn't moving. Looks like a dead one.

  17. WIFE: Then, you dispose of it quick.

  18. Peter attempts to pick up the mantis-fly with his hand.

  19. PETER: Oh, it's forearms are still moving. It pretends to be dead!

  20. Catching the mantis-fly, Peter throws it out of window. We see it flapping its wings before disappearing.

  21. EXT. ROADS - DAY

  22. Peter drives, listening to the car radio: ... plead guilty to charges of organizing and taking part in an unauthorized assembly...explain the value of freedom to the world...

  23. PETER (V.O.): Do they know nowhere in the world allow for unregulated freedom?

  24. Recalling.

  25. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In the mid-1980s, I studied International Protection of Human Rights. I understand the non-absolute ambit of freedom.

  26. INT. STUDY - DAY

  27. Phone in hand, Peter checks new Quora notifications.

  28. PETER (V.O.): Here's an interesting answer request: What realities are better to realize earlier in life?

  29. Pausing.

  30. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Overconfidence. Unwarranted confidence ie not supported by actual knowledge and competence leads to many biases, bad decisions and wrong actions.

  31. Pausing.

  32. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Egocentric people can never swallow straight-up facts that negative their cognitive biases.

  33. Pausing.

  34. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd):This is particularly so when highly narcissistic people seem powerful - the feeling of superiority, entitlement and urge for admiration make them take great risks.

  35. Pausing.

  36. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): As a result, they've to learn the lessons the hard way.

  37. Pausing.

  38. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's already lenient that they're tried in a Magistracy court.

  39. The TV breaks news: ... They pleaded guilty...are being remanded...

  40. Recalling.

  41. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I remember a Chinese proverb called: 螳臂擋車 ie a mantis wants to stop a chariot.

  42. Pausing.

  43. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But I've forgotten the story.

  44. Surfing the web with his phone, Peter reads.

  45. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The King of Qi State goes hunting in a chariot. On his way, he sees an insect raising its forearms, attempting to stop the chariot. The King asks the charioteer what insect is that. The charioteer replies that it's a mantis. It overrates its ability and underrates the obstacles. It advances blindly.

  46. Pausing.

  47. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's primary school stuff, telling the Chinese wisdom. All should have learned the moral of the story.

  48. Peter types his answer on the phone.

  49. Act 3


  51. Peter looks out of the window, thinking.

  52. PETER (V.O.): Nowadays, even the insect of mantis has evolved. Rather than confronting me with its forearms, it pretends to be dead so that it might survive.

  53. Recalling.

  54. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Times have changed. After the deaths of my grandparents, we set our caged birds free.

  55. Pausing.

  56. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): And now, we don't intent to harm the trespassing mantis-fly.

  57. Pausing.

  58. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But when mosquitoes bite and suck my blood, my conditional reflex is to stop them.

  59. Pausing.

  60. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Unregulated freedom threatens the very roots of freedom in any rule-based society.

  61. Pausing.

  62. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): To allow the natural condition of humankind eg without any law enforcement agency can make life nasty, brutish, solitary, poor and short.

  63. Pausing.

  64. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Any abuse of the right freedom has to be sanctioned.

  65. FADE OUT.

  66. THE END

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