By Abdellatif Sharaa
Life is full of events and lessons that can be remembered and used as examples to learn from for the future. Some of the lessons cannot be followed verbatim, but they can be used for wisdom or food for thought, such as the case in the following old story that I read a few days ago.
The story speaks about an Arab wise man who along with his sons and daughters had camels and sheep with a watch dog to protect the herd from wolves. Then one day, an impertinent man killed the family’s dog, and the children went to their father and told him about what happened. Upon learning about the incident, the wise man told his sons to go and kill the man who killed the dog. The children discussed their father’s orders, and all agreed that their father had grown old and must be suffering from dementia. They ignored their father’s advice because they thought how could they kill a man just for killing a dog?
A few months later, thieves came in and took all the camels and sheep under the cover of the night. Again, the children rushed to their father and informed him about what happened. His answer was the same: go and kill the dog’s killer. The children, after discussing the matter thoroughly, decided that that their father had surely gone insane after telling them to kill the dog’s killer when they told him that the camels and sheep were stolen.
Soon after that, another tribe attacked them, and even abducted one of the old man’s daughters. The children, in panic, went to their father and informed him about the other tribe’s attack. Again, their father said the same thing: go and kill the dog’s killer.
At that point, the children’s discussion was not whether their father had gone mad or not, but the extent of his madness, except for the eldest son who decided to obey his father this time. He went to the dog’s killer and told him that his father ordered his killing, and so he did.
News about the killing spread all over the place, prompting the thieves who stole the herds to return the animals during the night, out of fear of retribution from those who killed a man just for killing a watch dog. The invading tribe, likewise, feared of what may happen to them for abducting the old man’s daughter, so they took the girl back and asked that she marry the son of their tribe’s leader. At that moment, the children understood their father’s wisdom and that he did not go crazy after all.
The lesson: When you ignore some of your rights, others will have the audacity to rob you under daylight; not out of courage, rather it is your silence that allows them to insult you without fear.