Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Fable

Once upon a time there was a traveler, who wandered far and wide upon the world.

One day he arrived at the shores of a far off land and came upon the house of a humble farmer, who bade him enter and share in his bounty. The traveler made to enter the house, but the farmer politely asked the traveler to remove his shoes as a sign of respect to the farmer's customs. The traveler happily complied, and there was a great feast and good company. The next day the traveler took his leave of his host, collected his shoes, and invited the farmer to come visit him one day. Thanking his God for the blessings of good friends, he continued his journey.

Some weeks later he arrived at yet another far off land. Feeling fatigued from his long trip, the traveler came upon the house of a modest tailor. The tailor welcomed the traveler and invited him to share in his own bounty. The traveler made to enter the house, but the tailor politely requested the traveler speak in the most reverent silence as the house and all that dwelled within had been consecrated to their Lord. The traveler happily complied, lowering his voice in the utmost respect for the dwelling of his host. That evening there was again a feast, and the next day the traveler once again continued his journey, first inviting the tailor to some day join him at his own home. He went out, singing a joyous song to his God as he left the tailor's home.

Several more weeks passed as the traveler came upon a hilly area, filled with many herds of cattle and sheep. The traveler marveled at the beauty of the area and stopped at the home of a nearby rancher. The rancher welcomed the traveler and invited him to share in his own bounty. The traveler made to enter the house, but the rancher politely requested that the traveler remove his clothing before entering his house, as a sign of humility before his gods. The traveler was puzzled at this request, but happily complied, removing all his clothing down to the least loincloth in respect of the rancher's customs. That evening there was yet another feast, and the next day the traveler bade his new friend farewell. As the traveler was leaving, the rancher asked where the traveler was headed, and that he might want to visit him sometime. The traveler told the rancher that he was welcome in his own home at any time, and extended a warm invitation. The traveler then replaced his clothing and resumed his journey, at last arriving at his home.

Some months later, a knock came on the traveler's door, and who should be there but the rancher. The traveler greeted him warmly, and invited the man to come in. The rancher frowned, and as he began to disrobe he asked why the traveler wasn't doing so as well, in respect for the rancher's gods. The traveler said, "Friend, it is a great belief of my people, that we are free to express ourselves by extending hospitality to those who seek it, and invite others of all faiths and customs to partake in our bounty. Come, what I have is yours. You are free to follow the customs of your own gods, of course." The rancher, however, was greatly angered at this sign of disrespect from the traveler and killed him.

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