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What's Really Real?

*** Written by production manager, Jane Mellema***

Here is an Indian folktale that reminds me that the thoughts and opinions of others are a less secure foundation than things that we know to be true. 

In a small village lived a pious priest. One day, a wealthy man chose to honor this priest for rituals that he had performed by giving him a gift. The gift was a goat. The priest was very thankful for this useful and productive animal. After securing the goat on his shoulders, he set out to return home. Three thugs spotted the priest and began to eye the goat greedily. 

These hooligans were lazy and wanted the goat for a delicious meal. They began to discuss, “How can we steal this goat from the priest?”. After devising a clever strategy, they separated and hid at three different points along the path of the priest.

When the priest arrived at a secluded place, the first man appeared and challenged him. “Sir, what are you doing? I do not understand why a pious man like you needs to carry a dog on his shoulders!” The priest shouted back, “You fool. Can’t you see that this is not a dog but a goat?”. The man apologized and said, “I have told you what I see. I am sorry if you do not believe”. 

The priest had barely walked a short distance when the second thug popped out of his hiding spot and asked sternly, “Sir why do you carry a dead calf on your shoulders? You seem to be wise, and this is a very imprudent act on your part”. The priest loudly retorted, “How can you mistake a living goat for a dead calf?”  The thug responded, “Sir you have made a big mistake. Either you do not know what a goat looks like, or you are intentionally ignoring reality. I have only told you what I have seen”. The man walked away smiling.  Meanwhile, the priest grew more confused. 

Again within a matter of minutes, a third ruffian abruptly stopped the priest asking, “Sir, why do you carry a donkey on your shoulders? You will make yourself a laughingstock”. After this third incident, the priest began to feel unsettled. “Is this really a goat?” he wondered.  “Or is this some kind of ghost?” 

It seemed to the priest that only a ghost would manage to transform itself from a goat to a dog to a dead calf to a donkey. After working himself to the brink of terror, he thrust the goat off his shoulders and ran. The three clever thieves chuckled at the priest’s gullibility, seized the goat, and prepared their feast. 

Moral of the story? Don't be carried away by what others say.

Photo credit: Sylvia King

1 comment

  • Mel

    Haha Jane this made me chuckle! =)

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