Once upon a time…
There was a small village filled with people who were selfish. Day in and day out each household only ever thought of their own needs and comforts. They usually thought very poorly of their neighbors. Always angry at each of them because they seemed to be selfish, and never considered anyone else In the town.
Since no one else ever cared for another, everyone simply thought they should only look out for themselves. Each day the town members would return to their homes thinking how selfish everyone else is, leading them to believe they simply must look out for their own interests in defense. This cycle of selfishness grew and grew.
One day a food shortage forced everyone to meet in the town square to discuss this problem.
The first household raised chickens. The second had a carrot garden. The third grew potatoes. The fourth harvested celery. And the others did not know what the fifth had to offer.
The five households of the village fought for hours over who had the right to purchase more of what, all in an effort to keep themselves comfortable.
The first four each tried selfishly to raise the price on their own goods. However, as each one raised the price they found that the original problem didn’t cease.
Finally, the fifth townsfolk suggested that each household freely give a portion of what they had to offer. It was agreed that everyone would return the following day with a portion of their wares.
That evening each household was miserable as they made do with what meager morsels they had available for supper.
The following day the town met again.
The first household brought a chicken, the second brought a few carrots, the third brought some potatoes, the fourth brought one bunch of celery, but to everyone’s disgust the fifth brought a rock.
The fifth townsfolk suggested everyone put what they brought into a big pot. They would then boil everything and share the soup to feed their households a good hearty meal, and even have some left for everyone to take home for the following day.
The first four did agree to this idea, but they refused to let the fifth household take part. After all, the only thing they had brought was a rock.
Once the meal had been prepared, bowls were poured for the first four households. When each of them took a bite though, they were disappointed. While the meal contained everything they had brought, it still seemed bland and tasteless.
The fifth townsfolk then asked everyone to pour their soup back into the cauldron. The rock was dropped into the soup. They stirred the soup for a little while, then began to serve it among the town once more. This time they agreed to include the fifth household.
Everyone was very pleased with their meal. They were full and happy. Each household even had enough left over for the following day. The town continued this practice for weeks until the crisis had passed. Their town fared far better through the hardship then their neighbors who did not adopt such a practice.
The reason the town enjoyed the soup so much, was that the rock the fifth household would contribute each time was salt. The flavor and nourishment of the soup kept the town healthy and happy through one of their darkest times.
There are a few lessons to learn from this tale:
First, selfish behavior only encourages others to behave selfishly too.
Second, when everyone is only trying to get more for themselves, no one will be able to afford anything.
Third, it takes someone thinking selflessly to make the first offer and break a cycle of selfishness.
Fourth, if everyone will give just a little, it can go a long way for everyone else.
Finally, don’t be so quick to determine the value someone else may bring to a situation. The very thing you might be overlooking could be exactly what’s needed to give the whole situation the “flavor” needed to bring happiness to an otherwise miserable situation.
Share this story with someone who could use a word of encouragement today.