Richman, Poorman

Posted on July 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

This is an extended story I wrote based on a translated story from the book:Le cercle des menteurs contes philosophi (The Circle of Liars, philosophical tales from around the world) by Jean Claude Carriére

Once upon a time there was a beautiful city on the outskirts of a great forest. In the city lived an extremely rich man and an extremely poor man. Each had a son; by chance, the two young men had been born on the same day in the same year.

If I told you that both of those boys grew up in the same way, I would not be telling the truth. Though they lived in the same city, at the same time, they experienced their parents’ love and example and guidance in totally different ways.

The rich man’s son was provided everything he wanted: toys, clothing, exotic foods. He had it all! He attended the best schools and vacationed at the most luxurious resorts. He had nursemaids, cooks, valets, and a chauffeur who catered to his needs. He rarely did anything for himself. His parents loved him dearly and showed him, by providing him with all his wants. That is how he grew up.

The poor man’s son was also privileged. Since purchasing toys was out of the question, his father  cleverly devised ones for him to play with out of materials at hand. He often accompanied his father on trips and errands. Being an astute observer, he soon made his own toys and later small pieces of furniture for the household. The family did not have rich, sumptuous meals, but there was sufficient plain basic food to prevent hunger pangs. His mother was a clever cook, and she taught him much about stretching food supplies. With her help, he learned to raise vegetables from seed and to keep a small flock of chickens. He delighted in quiet walks in the forest, listening to the subtle sounds of nature; sometimes watching young animals at play. When opportunity arose he walked about the city too, and studied people as they went about their lives. He marveled at the variety of things they did. As a teenager, he found work himself, fixing neighbors fences, delivering packages for local stores, taking care of people’s animals. His income improved the family’s way of life. His father and mother were so proud! They could not have wished for a better son. That is how he grew up.

On the day the two young men turned 18, the very wealthy man brought his son to the top of a mountain.  Below, the entire city spread out before them. “Look,” said the father,” one day this will all be yours”.

On that same day, the poor man also brought his son to the mountain. They gazed down at the bustling city, the vast fields, the trees of the great forest and the father said to his son, “Look.”

Both were satisfied.