26 December, 2011

Blessing - or - Bane

Many years ago, in a poor Chinese village, lived a peasant with his son. His only material good, besides the land and his little straw hut, was a horse he had inherited from his father.

One good day, the horse ran away leaving the man without a horse to till the land. His neighbours —who respected him for his honesty and diligence— came to his home to let him know how much they regretted what happened. He thanked the visit, but asked,"How would you know what happened has been a misfortune in my life?"

Somebody commented in a low voice to a friend,"He doesn't want to accept reality, let him think what he wants, as long as he doesn't get sad with what has happened."

And the neighbors went away, feigning to be in agreement with what they had heard.

A week later, his horse came back to the stable, but he was not alone. He brought with him a beautiful mare as company. After knowing this the inhabitants of the village overjoyed, because only now they understood the answer the man had given them, returned to the peasant's home to congratulate him for his good luck.

"Before you had just one horse, now you have two. Congratulations!" they said.

"Thank you very much for your visit and your solidarity ," answered the peasant. "But, how do you know that what happened to me is a blessing in my life?"

Confused, and thinking the man was turning insane, the neighbors walked away, commenting on the road,"Is it possible that this man does not understand that God sent him a gift?"

A month had passed, the peasant's son decided to tame the mare. But the animal jumped in an unexpected way, and the boy had a bad fall breaking a leg. The neighbors came back to the peasant's home taking with them presents for the wounded youth. The major of town, solemnly, presented his condolences to the father saying that all were very sad for what had happened. The man thanked the visit and everybody's affection. But he asked,"How can you know if what happened has been a misfortune in my life?"

This sentence left everybody astonished, since nobody could have the least doubt that an accident of his son is a true tragedy. When leaving the peasant's home they commented among themselves,"Really he is becoming crazy; his only son may end up lame forever and he still has doubts that what has happened is a tragedy."

Some months passed and Japan declared war to China. The emissaries went through the country looking for healthy boys to be sent to the battle front. When arrived to the village drafted all the young ones except the peasant's son who was with his broken leg. None of the boys returned alive. His son recovered, the two animals gave a litter that was sold and gave good money. The peasant went to visit his neighbors to console them and help them, since they had shown solidarity with him at all times.

Always when any of them complained the peasant said,"How do you know if this is a tragedy?" If somebody was too happy, he asked,"How do you know if that is a blessing?"

And the men of that village understood that, beyond appearances, life has other meanings.

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