Are you the Donkey?

The Boy, the Man and the Donkey is a very old ‘parable or story’ that was originally written by Aesop in the Sixth century B.C. Aesop’s Fables have been translated far and wide and most every culture had its own version of this story as a means to teach or guide behaviours. The moral of the story is – TRY TO PLEASE ALL, AND YOU WILL PLEASE NONE.

A MAN and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?” 

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”  

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”     

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?”  

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders.

They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle, the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

So what does this story mean?

It means that failure to focus on the greater good whereby everyone wins – is fraught with angst, hideous behaviours and a bunch of unhappy and disgruntled people creating dramas to feed their own egos.

Does this happen in your workplace, family or groups of friends?

I would hazard a guess that everyone (unless they are a total narcissist or sycophant) would say yes.

How do we learn from this story?

We apply a filter of the ‘greater good’ with all our judgments and subsequent words, behaviours and actions. We park our own self-importance and ego, increase our tolerance of differences – as long as others behaviours are contributing to the greater good. Then you won’t feel like the donkey, or be treated like the donkey – poor donkey.