10 November 2011


The shepherd was on a remote hill, with the village just barely visible in the valley below, when the stranger arrived. He sat down beside the shepherd and from his bag pulled out his lunch and ate, sullenly, holding the scrap of bread tight to him. "And what brings you here?" asked the shepherd.

"I am looking for a new place to live," said the stranger. "Pray tell me, shepherd, what is that village like, in the valley below?"

"I will tell you of this village, stranger, but first I should like to hear of the place from whence you come."

The strangers face twisted into an ugly mask of contempt. "Thieves! Thieves and liars! Nobody can be trusted there, everyone looking out for themselves. People there find no joy in life except when bringing misery to their neighbors. And now, shepherd, I have met my end of the bargain - tell me of your village? Is it a place worthy of my time?"

"Sadly it is not," replied the shepherd. "Here you will find that the people are much the same."

And the stranger carried on, taking the fork in the path away from the valley and onward into the wastes.

On the very next day, on that same hill, a second man came along and joined the shepherd where he sat. He spread his lunch between himself and the shepherd, and bid him share his dates and wine. After some time the conversation turned to the purpose of the stranger's journey. "I am looking for a home, good shepherd. The town that I am from was a lovely, friendly place, full of honest and hardworking folk, but I felt that surely there must be something new to see in this world. And so I have set out to find new friends and family among strangers. Tell me of your village, shepherd - is it a place that would welcome me?"

"Indeed it is," replied the shepherd. "You will find that people here are much the same as those you left behind. Come, let us walk together, and when we arrive I shall introduce you as my friend."


This is a reprint of one of my most favourited comments on MetaFilter, original version here.

This isn't really mine. Although the writing is all original, it is based entirely on a tale that I read somewhere, and I am transcribing it as best I can from memory. Maybe it is an ancient parable, maybe it is the original work of someone more creative than I am and walking among us today, I don't know... If anyone finds the original source I will happily link it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you still trying to start a cult? I read that on metafilter.


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