Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Fanciful Parable

Nahari: I'm going to Hell! I killed a child! I smashed his head against a wall.
Gandhi: Why?
Nahari: Because they killed my son! The Muslims killed my son!
[indicates boy's height]
Gandhi: I know a way out of Hell. Find a child, a child whose mother and father have been killed and raise him as your own.
[indicates same height]
Gandhi: Only be sure that he is a Muslim and that you raise him as one.
(from the movie, Gandhi, 1982)

A Parable

A large group gathered outside City Hall to express their protests regarding a significant social and political issue. Ten of the protesters got into a fight, five against five. They were arrested and brought before the magistrate.

The judge heard the defenses and then ordered each protester to meet privately with him, one at a time. Each person, after being interrogated, left the judge’s chambers looking puzzled, perplexed shoulders shrugging one after the other.

After a few hours, the judge returned to the bench.

“I have learned many things about each of you today, and I have a verdict to render and penalty to impose.

“You are guilty of unlawful assembly and disturbing the peace. You may choose one of two consequences.

“I have discovered that four of your number—two from each side—are talented at cooking. Two of your number—one from each side—are musicians. One week from today, you will turn yourselves in at the homeless shelter on Main Street. You will prepare a dinner party for a group of children who have recently been rescued from the streets. Those of you who do not cook or play music will serve, help with games, and clean up.

“If you choose not to participate in this, you will be taken immediately to jail where you will remain for six months, and then pay a fine of $10,000. Your choice.”

All the defendants chose the party.

On the day of the event, the cooks immediately began to argue about the issue that started the trouble in the first place. The musicians each bragged about the protest songs they had written against their enemies. The others just folded their arms and glared. The guard assigned to them reminded them all that the children would be arriving in a few hours and failure to serve them would result in a renewal of punishment number two.

So, the cooks began to talk together, sharing recipe ideas and sorting through the supplies that had been arranged for them. The musicians shared ideas about songs that would bring joy to these lost children, and even co-wrote one just for the event. The others began setting up chairs and tables, discussing the best way to create an environment of safety and fun for the children.

The children arrived on time, the last child followed into the room by the judge. The prisoners looked at one another and gulped nervously.

The party came off beautifully. The downcast, fearful faces of the children were transformed into beacons of light and hope. The food was delicious, the music glorious, the service attentive and fun. Once the children left and the room was cleaned and put back in order, the judge informed the prisoners that they had served their sentences well and were now released, free to return back to their former lives.

“May we stay a little while longer, judge?” said one of the cooks. “There’s a bit of food left, and we’d like to eat it together.”

“And we wrote a song together about our day,” said one of the musicians. “You might want to stay and hear it.”

“We’ve got an idea for another party for the children,” said one of the servers. “There are plans to make.”

The judge stayed and dined with the protesters. After the food was eaten, the song applauded, and the plans blessed, he asked them a question.

“So, are you no longer protesting against each other?”

“Oh, no,” said one of them. “There is much on which we disagree. But today we became human and real to one another. I still protest about the issue, but I no longer have enemies to protest against. I protest now among friends.”

The above story, sadly enough, is a work of fiction.

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