Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How the Monkey Saved the Fish

The rainy season that year had been the strongest ever and the river had broken its banks. There Were floods everywhere and the animals were all running up into the hills. The floods came so fast that many drowned except the fortunate monkeys who used their proverbial agility to climb up into the treetops.

They looked down on the surface of the water where the fish were swimming and gracefully jumping out of the water as if they were the only ones enjoying the devastating flood. One of the monkeys saw the fish and shouted to his companion: “Look down, my friend, look at those poor creatures. They are going to drown. Do you see how they struggle in the water?”

“Yes,” said the other monkey. “What a pity! Probably they were late in escaping to the hills because they seem to have no legs. How can we save them?” “I think we must do something. Let’s go close to the edge of the flood where the water is not deep enough to cover us, and we can help them to get out.”

So the monkeys did just that. They started catching the fish, but not without difficulty. One by one, they brought them out of the water and put them carefully on the dry land.

After a short time there was a pile of fish lying on the grass motionless. One of the monkeys said, “Do you see? They were tired, but now they are just sleeping and resting. Had it not been for us, my friend, all these poor people without legs would have drowned.”

The other monkey said: “They were trying to escape from us because they could not understand our good intentions. But when they wake up, they will be very grateful because we have brought them salvation.”

The moral of this tale is easy to see.

While we sincerely think our intentions are good and honorable ones, we need to be mindful that we are not projecting our way as the only way on someone else. At the very least give the other person the courtesy of asking their permission with respect not condescension, if our help is needed before rushing pell mell into something that end up hurting them rather then helping.

Of course there are exceptions as in if a hurtling 2-ton truck is barreling down and death is immanent, then you act first if its in your power. But most of the time when people "help" it is not of immanent danger, but more of meddling of feeling our own discomfort at someone's expense.

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