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Monday
Jul092012

Parable

One time there was a little boy who lived in a small town full of wealthy children.  This boy was not rich, but rather from a humble family of craftsmen.  He didn't have the advantages of the kids around him, but he had desire.  This desire carried him successfully through school and into maturity, despite the obstacles thrown into his path.  Everything he had in life was earned from blood, sweat, and tears – no victory came easy, unlike the other children whose money and family relations brought them a life of ease and plentitude. Because of his work ethic and ingenuity, he won over other residents of the town who also were not wealthy.  They respected his ability to thrive in an environment in which he faced numerous obstacles.  Because they related to his circumstances, these residents went out of their way to help the young craftsman as he struggled to feed his family.  They made an effort to purchase his goods, they spoke kindly of him to other villagers, and they did favors for this boy that they would never dream of doing for other children in the town. 

With his own perseverance, and the combined effort of his local supporters, the boy was able to turn his family's craft business into a successful enterprise, competing handily with the craft businesses of the wealthier families.  It continued to grow so quickly that eventually other families wanted to buy his business. The boy had a decision to make. He could continue to fight, scratch, and claw to stay consistent with the other families in town, or he could take their money and finally transcend his class status, beyond a humble craftsman and into a successful businessman.  Finally, an offer came that was just too lucrative to pass up.  The boy took the money, moved his family into a larger house, and smiled at his newly-found wealth.  However, when he went back into town to visit his old supporters, those who had helped to pave his climb upward, he found little enthusiasm.

It was when he visited an old supporter, the shopkeeper who had eagerly sold his crafts, that he asked why the others in town were not happy for his success. 

"It's not that we're unhappy for you," said the shopkeeper, "it's just that we wanted you to win." 

Confused, the boy replied, "But I did win!  I finally escaped the dogfight that was my life for the past ten years.  I beat the other companies at their own game." 

The shopkeeper chuckled and said, "You definitely proved you could beat them at their own game, but you didn't win.  You were co-opted." 

"I don't understand the difference.  In the end, I've acquired exactly what those wealthy families have! I'm one of them now and I did it without their resources or their help!"

Again, the shopkeeper laughed quietly as he looked down at the floor. "You had my help," said the shopkeeper, "because you weren't one of those families.  We, the residents of this town who exist outside the wealthier families, we pushed for your success because we wanted you to win.  We worked hard along side you, singing your praises, lauding your achievements because we thought you were looking to move beyond this town, beyond the wealthy families who have controlled this town for years.  Instead, however, we've realized you just wanted to be part of their world.  Had we known that from the beginning, we may not have invested so much on your behalf.  That, young boy, is the reason we do not celebrate with you.  Because we have to start all over again.  We have to hope we have enough in the tank for another push.  We have to find another young person to believe in."

As the boy left the store and walked into his new neighborhood high upon the hill, he shrugged off the shopkeeper's remarks.  "That crazy old man thought I was here to be his friend," he said to himself and he never looked back.  "This is business and I did winI got paid and that's the point."

-David Driscoll