The Wise Man and Folly

Long, long ago, in a peaceful land, there lived this wise man way up in the mountains... not too far from this little village.

He was a gentle wise man, and so all the little boys of the village liked to spend time with him, listening to his stories of strange lands, and stranger customs.

Oh, how they laughed at these foreigners, how they puzzled over

the strangers’ incessant lust and greed, how different it all was from their little pristine village... and, at the end of the day, the boys would run the whole way back home, shouting gleefully while playing ‘defenders of the land’'...

All of them, that is, except for Jon... No, he walks slowly, head turned to the ground, deeply immersed in thought...

The next day Jon is the first to reach the wise man, for he has many questions: “Why do they do this ?” he asks“Why would anyone engage in such turmoil... Why waste so much of life simply trying to hurt each other ...?”

There is a look of gentle pity in the wise man’s eyes as he replies “Men who don’t know love...who don’t value peace and togetherness...who only know how to hurt and abuse others... they are just lonely people, and very, very afraid of what the future will bring... and so they try to make themselves feel important, by hurting and demeaning others.”

Hearing this Jon paled, his eyes shining with unshed tears “But that’s so wrong - if they’d just be nice to people they would have lots of friends...and then they wouldn’t need to be so lonely... Why do they do this ...?”

The old man drew Jon to his chest, holding him in a safe embrace while his tears ran free “Men choose... not out of their hearts, but from their darkest fears” ...and held him safe while Jon cried for the loss these strangers would never feel.

...

Years passed and Jon grew up to be a very serious young man... and the day came when he announced he would go to the strange lands, and seek out those fearful, angry men... and show them love, teach them how to be happy... teach them friendship.

He left, without pomp and ceremony, to start his long, long journey... with only the old wise man standing witness for his nobility ... [even as he muttered to himself about the folly of youth]

The closer Jon got to the strange lands, the less he recognized - no longer were the trails following the natural contours of the land - no, now they were paved in hard unyielding rock... no longer was the forest free to flow with the rivers - no, now it was cut back so crude fields could be planted in row after row of ugly crops... and what was that stench... what were these people burning as fuel ...?

Far too soon he came to the city [well, it was really only a small town, but Jon had never seen so many houses together]... and so he stood in the town square [as he had been taught by his elders] and started orating...

In a clear and thrilling voice he told any who passed by about love and friendship and peace... but all he got back were jeers, people mocking him, laughing at his ‘peasant attitude’... and when he tried - oh, how hard he tried - to make them understand where they went wrong... well then, the crowd got ugly, they started shoving and pushing him, throwing rotten vegetables at him... Ugly it was, until the guards came... not to rescue him, but to throw him in jail “For disrupting the peace, inciting a riot, and being a moron”.

The next morning he was before a judge, who took one look at him, at his dirty clothes and unwashed body, and promptly ruled him guilty, sentencing him to three years in a chain-gang, building more ugly roads... and when Jon tried to speak in his defense he was promptly beaten by the guards “For your arrogance, in talking back to the judge”.

Three long years later Jon is released, penniless, bruised and battered, to walk back home to his lost village... the road is long and hard, often almost impossible, and only the deep knowledge that love and peace will wait for him in the end sustains him in his journey.

Yes, love and peace... for those who know the true value of life... but, not everyone chooses that... finding their coarse pleasure in greed and hatred... Best leave them to it, then...

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