December 16th, 2009A Story of Morals
My friend Paul sent me this story today:
There is an Asian story about a farmer who saw a tiger’s tail swishing between two large rocks. In a moment of haste, he grabbed the tail and pulled. All of a sudden he realized he had an angry tiger by the tail and only two rocks stood between him and the tiger’s teeth and claws! So there he remained, afraid to loosen his grip on the enraged animal’s tail lest he surely be killed.
A monk happened by and the farmer called out in desperation, “Come over here and help me kill this tiger!”
The holy man said, “Oh, no. I cannot do that. I cannot take the life of another.” Then he went on to deliver a homily against killing. All the while, the farmer was holding tightly to the tail of an angry tiger.
When the monk finally finished his sermon, the farmer pleaded, “If you won’t kill the tiger, then at least come hold its tail while I kill it.”
The monk thought that perhaps it would be all right to simply hold the tiger’s tail, so he grabbed hold and pulled. The farmer, however, turned and walked
away down the road.
The monk shouted after him, “Come back here and kill the tiger!”
“Oh, no,” the farmer replied. “You have converted me!”
There seems to be a fine line between situational ethics on one side and idealism on the other. It’s so easy to think of the world in black/white terms, but in reality, there are just so many shades of gray.
There’s also probably a message here about hasty actions.