The Business of Wisdom in Global Affairs
About 50 years ago, my father told me a fable. I don’t know its origin. I believe it may have originated in Turkey or in the Middle East.
No doubt, he’d heard it from someone much older than he was when he heard it. And older and wiser when he shared it with me. Thank you, Dad.
A long time ago, there lived a powerful king. He ruled vast lands with firmness and fairness. However, the many city-states and principalities were ruled by selfish and greedy men. They were constantly fighting wars over petty grievances to disguise their true motive—greed. Therefore, the king issued an edict banning such unjust wars. If they defied the edict, he would send his troops in to vanquish the offender and seize his lands.
In one of the small countries, the young people had gathered to come up with a plan to better the lives of the people. They concluded that the old people were a burden and that they should all be put to death.
One young man, unable to allow his father to be killed, led him from the city in the dead of night and hid him in a cave on the outskirts of the city.
The word spread to a neighboring land where a greedy prince called his advisors together to discuss a plot to wage a war against the other land to grab their wealth. They wrote the following letter:
Five generations ago, our people lent to your people 25 units of rope woven from sand which you promised to return. Yet with each passing generation, your promise has gone unfulfilled. Therefore, we must demand return of this rope or we will be forced to send our armies to your land to retrieve it along with just restitution.
When the leaders of the council received and read this letter, they panicked. None had ever heard of the rope woven from sand nor knew anything about it.
The man who’d hid his father in the cave outside of town asked for the letter and said he would return with a solution to the problem. He went to see his father.
His father said, “Write back. Say to them, we have many coils of rope. Some are woven from sand but each is different. Send us a sample of your rope so we may match it up with the rope that is yours and do justice by returning your rope.”
The young man returned to the council and they sent just such a letter.
When the evil prince received the reply, he turned to his advisers and said, “There is still one old man left in their land. We will wait until he dies and try again.”
Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview