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Fables and Philosophy
Sparrow & Fox Flood Let No Man Say
Cracked Pot Lottery

The Sparrow and the Fox
a fable with two morals

FoxA sparrow was caught unsheltered in a blizzard. Beaten and frozen by the storm, the little bird fell to the ground, nearly dead.

After the storm, a farmer driving his cows through the field spotted the sparrow on the ground. The kindly farmer picked the bird up, pressed its frozen little body deep into a fresh, steaming cowpie, and continued on his way.

The moist heat of the cowpie soon revived the little bird who, in her joy at finding herself alive and warm, burst into song. A fox hunting nearby heard the sparrow singing, and, following the sound, found the sparrow, snatched her up from the cowpie, and ate her in one bite.

The morals of this story:

  1. Every now and then you may find yourself in a world of shit, but the one who put you there is not necessarily an enemy, and the one who takes you out is not necessarily a friend.

  2. When you are up to your nose in shit, it's a real good time to keep your mouth shut.

The Flood Dove
The rain fell, the waters rose, and the river overflowed it's banks. Homes flooded and families began to evacuate. One man stopped at his neighbors house to offer aid. "Neighbor," he cried, "the waters are rising! Bring your family into my truck and I will take you to safety."

"No," replied his neighbor, "I will not go, for I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and He shall protect me and my family."

The rain still fell and the waters still rose. Soon the man and his family had to go to the second floor of the house to escape the water. An Emergency Rescue crew found the family, and said "The waters still rise. Get into our boat and we will take you to safety."

"No," said the man, "My faith is strong! God shall protect me and my family and we shall come to no harm."

The rain would not stop. The waters rushed higher. As the man and his family clung to the roof of their house a helicopter rescue team flew over and dropped them a ladder. Again the man refused. "I do not fear! I believe in God, and he shall protect us. We will not go."

The entire family drowned.

The man, who, in life, had been a goodly man, found himself before God. "God!" the man sobbed, "I believed in you, and trusted you to protect me and my family. How could you just let us die like that? Why did you not save us?"

And God replied: "I sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter - what exactly were you waiting for?"

The Lottery
There was a woman who spent her days in good works - she nurtured her family, lived in friendship with her neighbors, and labored endlessly in easing the suffering of those less fortunate. She was content with her life except for one thing. Money

"God," she prayed, "There is so much poverty in this world. If you would let me win the Lottery, just once, I would ask for nothing more. I would feed the hungry and clothe the homeless and do many good deeds with the money."

She lived her life as she always had, and often repeated her prayer, but she never won the Lottery.

When she died and stood before God she dared to ask, "Lord, I never wanted the money for selfish things. I could have done much good in the world if you had allowed me to win the Lottery, why would you not let me?"

And God replied: "You should have bought a ticket."

"Let No Man Say..."
King Thordor stood defiantly on the prow of his tiny ship. With his gaze fixed on the score of ships sent to ensure his destruction, he let out a battle cry that struck mortal fear in the hearts of his enemies while stirring his rag-tag crew to fight as if God himself were on their side..."LET NO MAN SAY KING THORDOR FEARS DEATH!"

SkullWith that, he drew his sword from its scabbard and sounded the attack. Within moments he and his crew were cut to tiny bits.

The Cracked Pot
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on one end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. FlowerBecause of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."


NOTE: I had read a version of this years ago that had been attributed to Mother Theresa. I have now been made aware that the original text was written by Dr. Keith and the text I found was an adaptation. They are inspirational words, regardless who said them first - here is the original text and link to their web site:

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

The previously published adaptation . . .basically the same words, but edited to flow in a slightly more spiritual tone (my opinion):

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, You will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, People may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, Someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, There may be jealousy;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, People will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, And it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see in the final analysis, It is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

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