Monday, January 23, 2012

The Miser

A man loved gold so dearly that he sold all his possessions for a bag of gold coins bigger than a ram's head. He buried the gold in his garden, and every day he went to dig it up and count each and every piece of the precious metal.
          But one day a thief saw him at this, and that very night came and dug up the gold for himself. When the miser discovered the empty hole the next morning, his wails could be heard far and wide.
          A young servant boy came running to see the trouble. "Sir," he said, "there's no need to weep. Here, replace your gold with this." And he handed his master a large, heavy rock.
          "This isn't gold, you fool!" raged the miser, but the boy shrugged.
          "You never meant to spend the gold, master, so what does it matter?" he asked. "That rock is just as much use to you as those coins ever were!"

Something we never use is worthless.

          That servant boy is probably my most favorite character in any of the Aesop stories. He completely outsmarts the old miser while the miser is probably middle aged and the servant is only around 10 or 11. The fact that the little boy can teach that man a lesson is really important for people out there to learn. But that is a different lesson. Maybe later I'll talk about that. What really makes me mad about this fable is that I can see many things like this in real life. You read this story and you think, "Wow, the miser is pretty dumb. A whole bag of gold and he doesn't spend it." Well this stupid person has been inside of every person on this planet at one time or another.

          A child can beg and plead for a toy and then after exhausting his parents, doesn't use it for more than a week. I can partially understand this because, after all, it is only a child, but the fact that so much money is wasted on things like this really annoys me. I mean, have you ever been to a baby's house? There are toys EVERYWHERE and the child plays with 2. Only 2. It really annoys me when I see a child like that. I mean why have so many things if you never play with it. The parents can always just sell the toys that they don't play with and I bet the child wouldn't even notice.

The same goes for older kids. I have even done this before. I get a video game that I play for about a month and then never look at it again. I can partially connect with the miser here. It is hard to give up something even though you don't use it or it is worthless. You grow attached to it and can't let go. But people, including me, need to learn to let go because something we never use is completely worthless.

          My friend says that his dad has a really cool car that he loves. It’s vintage and a real classic and a collector's item, etc. Yet he takes it out of the garage maybe 2 or 3 times a year and is getting his whole driveway repaved because the gravel on his old driveway would chip the paint. This is an extreme version of the story. Not only is his "bag of gold" not being used to its full capacity, it is guzzling up all of his money. The cost to keep good condition and to repave his driveway is coming all from his wallet. He won't sell it because he has an attachment to it and I understand that, I mean no disrespect; but we need to learn to use or let go of something that is, in reality, worthless to us.

          I can understand attachment. I have gone through the same thing. I wanted to keep my video game even though I didn’t play it anymore, but my dad persuaded me to sell it. I was really sad for a couple of days, but after that, I completely forgot about it and moved on. We need to learn to use or let go. I think that Aesop was right on for this one. Something we never use is, indeed, worthless.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Ant and the Dove

A dove in flight spied an ant struggling in the creek below, near to drowning. In pity, she lowered a blade of grass into the water so that the ant might cling to it. "Friend, you have saved my life," the ant said gratefully, as he was led safely to shore.
          Besides the creek stood a hunter, who raised his bow to take aim at the dove. Seeing his rescuer in danger, the tiny ant crawled up the hunter's boot and stung the hunter on the leg. With a cry of pain the hunter let his arrow fly off the mark, and the dove was free from danger.

One good deed deserves another.   

          This is one of those fables that I think is a little off the mark. It is true that one good deed deserves another. But that does not mean a good deed in return is mandatory. The way I look at it is in three ways...

  1. Let’s say a person walks you across the street and then, when walking back, he/she is about to get run over, wouldn't you try to save him? But what if that person doesn't help you cross the street, does that mean that you shouldn't help him/her?
  2. If you are helping someone, help them for the good feeling you get when you make someone else's life a little easier. Don't just help them so that you can use that to make that person do something for you.
  3. If you are helped by a person, should you constantly be on the lookout for that person and never leave his/her side? If that person who helped you deserves a good deed, must you help him/her with whatever obstacles comes in his/her way? Is it mandatory?
          The first point I made, I think is completely silly, yet people still think like this. They refuse to help another person and their reason is that that person never did anything for them. I mean, "REALLY!" Be a good person and help them out. You don't need someone to be nice to you to be nice to them. Some people out there, not all of them, have to learn this.

          The second point I made is a little similar to the first point, but still different. It's basically saying that you should help someone just to be nice and not because you want something to hold over that person's head. So you can’t say to that person, "You owe me, so you have to..." or "You have to because I did this for you..." That is just wrong.

          And the third thing is asking, "Are we obligated to help someone if they help us?" Is it a mandatory thing or just something that people do out of the kindness of their hearts? I think it should not be mandatory and more importantly, the people who help other people should not think that it is mandatory. If the opportunity arises, then yes, that person you helped will probably help you, but if they don't, it is not their fault, either. They don't have to help you just because you helped them.

          I know you must be asking, "Wait, is Wooyoung really talking about what is wrong about Aesop's Fables? I thought that he was supposed to talk about the good things about fables." Well, to answer that, I just think that Aesop was a tiny bit off base here. Aesop isn't really perfect. His moral, one good deed deserves another, makes sense in some circumstances, but I think not all the time. He lived over 300 years ago, so who knows, maybe in his time, it was mandatory. We'll never know.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Mice and the Weasels

The mice who lived in a certain wood were in constant fear of the weasels, who hunted them for food. At last the mice held a council and decided to declare war on their enemies. "But friends, listen to me!" cried one mouse. "To be a real army we will need commanders to lead us." Mice on all sides clamored for the honor, and the bravest were chosen by vote. And the mouse who had been clever enough to suggest that an army needed leaders was made the general.
          Then this mouse spoke up again. "It's only right that all the officers should wear uniforms, so no one will mistake us for common soldiers," he suggested. Everyone agreed, and the mice fashioned tall straw helmets for the commanders to wear. The general's helmet was crowned with bright red plumes.
          The mouse general sent a challenge to the weasels, and soon the day of battle came. The mouse army hid themselves in the tall grass, planning to ambush their enemies. But the weasels easily spotted the plume of the general's helmet waving above the grass, and they pounced. Shrieking in terror, the mice ran for their lives.
          The general fled with the rest, but when he dived headfirst for his hole, his straw helmet was too big to fit inside. The common soldiers managed to dash to safety, but the general and all of his commanders were devoured.

Don't sacrifice what is practical for the sake of pomp and show. 

As I read it, I thought to myself, "So what if the general has a huge helmet? He is the leader and therefore has more power, so he can have all the luxuries." But at the end, it was really that huge, luxurious helmet was his undoing. Because he chose to wear a helmet so pompous, he was easily spotted. In real life, I have seen many people that have been so self-centered. Maybe it wasn't something that caused them to be eaten, but it has made them into spoiled brats, who think that they are better than everyone. Some examples are celebrities that have 10 cars and a huge mansion. Those people lose sight of what is really important in life like friends and family and what is practical  like buying a small sedan or Prius instead of buying a 4 ton Hummer that guzzles up 30 gallons of gas an hour.

          I also feel that I could really connect to this story. I have, along with all these celebrities, wanted something fancy or expensive, whether it is to show off, or have a lot of fun. But when I get these things such as new video game, everything else usually fades away for a few days. I eat junk food, which is not healthy and I don't talk to my parents since I am so absorbed by the new thing,    which isn't going to help my relationship with my parents. I'm not saying that my relationship with them is bad, but I'm just saying that, since we're a family, we should communicate more. It is natural for people to want things that are fancier than what we need, but when we go overboard, we risk the consequences of losing practicality.

          Another viewpoint to this is something my dad always told me when I was a kid and whenever I wanted something at the toy store or I saw something in a commercial. He would say to me, "Think about this, is the thing that you are buying a necessity or a luxury." I'm not saying I always listened and stopped begging, but the saying stuck with me. Now that I am older, I can realize what it means. Technically speaking, anything can be a luxury from a pillow to a Ferrari, but if you use common sense, a necessity is something you must have to live, like water or food. Everything else is a luxury. But we really can't live like that. The reason our species is so advanced is because we don't live like that. So my dad's saying really was to balance out what we truly need and what we want. Sure, we can buy a few games here, and a car there, but we need to balance between practicality and luxury.  The fact that celebrities spend so much of their money on nothing but luxurious really annoys me. .

          So, all in all, these mice from the story have taught us a valuable lesson. We might not die if we give up practicality for "pomp and show", but the consequences could be dangerous and we should watch our step, so we don't end up like those poor mice in the story, cocky and pampered, but stupid.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Man and the Lion

A man and a lion happened to meet on the road, and fell into conversation. It wasn't long before they began to argue.
          "Any fool knows that a lion is stronger than a man," the lion boasted. "A lion is the king of the Beasts!"
          "He may be, but a man is mightier yet, and everybody knows it!" proclaimed the man. "Just look at that statue over there!" And he pointed to a tall marble statue by the roadside, showing a man gripping a lion by the throat.
          "That proves nothing," protested the lion. "After all, a man carved that stature! It would have been quite a different scene had a lion made it!"

There are two sides to every story

          We all know that in real life, a lion would completely destroy a man in a fight. But this odd portrayal of an argument over who is better is necessary to get the point across that there are indeed two sides to every story. Like everything in this world, a story has an opposite side. Just like there are positive and negative, north and south, poison and antidote, and water and hot sauce. You should always listen to the opposite side of the story, even though you are already set on your own opinion. Just think about what would happen if everybody was that stubborn and unwilling to accept a different view point.

          First off, our justice system is completely based off of this in the way that the judge must listen to both sides of the story to make the correct decision. I am not saying that the judge will make the decision right every time, but without listening to both sides of the argument, he will have a diminished chance of getting the decision right.

          Another thing is that many parents out there must listen to their children when they are accusing them of something or punishing them for something. If their child, let's say, got a detention for talking in class, then the parent would get upset. But what if the only reason the child was talking was because another kid was provoking him/her and would not stop for quite some time. It really isn't the child's fault in this situation.

          If we never listen to other person's argument, we will become stubborn and narrow minded. If we become narrow minded we will not be open to other people’s ideas and opinions and then in turn we will not progress as a race because we refuse to take in other ideas. If one person thinks that a plane should be run on water and another thinks it should be run on fuel, and person B wins because he is so stubborn, we will never have that great idea of a plane being run on water. We would be so regressive and not have any new technology and be overtaken by other countries like Russia or China. They could in theory, “bomb us back to the Stone Age”. And I know nobody wants that.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Fisherman and his Catch

A hardworking fisherman had bad luck one day on the water and caught only a single, small fish. "You're barely big enough for a mouthful!" he exclaimed. "But at least you'll be something to bring home to my family for dinner."
          The little fish gasped. "Have mercy and spare my life! You can see what a pitiful meal I'd make. If you throw me back, I promise I'll grow into a fish that would truly be worth your while to catch!"
          But the fisherman put the fish in his basket, and began rowing for home. "You may be small," he said, "but if I throw you back now, I may never catch you again."

A small gain today is better than a large promise for tomorrow.

         When I read this story for the first time, I never really got the point of the moral. If you could catch that same fish years later and it would be huge, then why not do it? This story always gave me something to think about as I fell asleep. But now I understand what it means. It means that what you get, no matter how worthless or small, is better than something that you may get tomorrow. It is like that other saying: A bird in hand is better than two in the bush. In fact, I even had to explain it to my friends the other day. They could not get it even though they are usually pretty good with these kinds of things. I guess this is just one of those morals that is really hard to get.

         In the real world, if your parents say that either you can have a few cookies right now,  or you can have a lot of cookies later, you'll more likely to pick the choice where your craving is immediately satisfied. I know that is the one that I would pick. A small thing that you are absolutely going to get is better than a bigger promise for later.

        This moral, as you can see, occurs in real life as well as in fiction. I think that this moral really teaches people to take what you can get now and leave the bigger risks for when you really need to. What I mean by bigger risks are life or death situations, not cookie craving cases. So if you ever end up with the short end of the stick, take what you can and "live to fight another day".

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Crow and the Pitcher

For weeks and weeks there had been no rain. The streams and pools had dried to dust, and all of the animals were thirsty. Two crows flying together in search of water, spotted a pitcher that had been left on a garden wall. They flew to it and saw that it was half full of water. But neither one could reach far enough inside the pitcher's narrow neck to get a drink.
          "There must be a ways to get that water," said the first crow. "If we think it through, we'll find an answer."
          The second crow tried to push the pitcher over, straining with all of his might. But it was too heavy to budge. "It's hopeless!" he croaked, and flew away to look for water elsewhere.
          But the first crow stayed by the pitcher and thought, and after a time he had an idea. Picking up some pebbles in his beak, he dropped them one by one into the pitcher until at last the water rose to the brim. Then the clever bird happily quenched his thirst.

Wisdom and patience succeeds where force fails.

          This story reminds me of myself. I have seen people like to just use brute force to solve their problems or only use one way to solve every problem they have. When that doesn't work, they give up. These people are just like the second crow. I, on the other hand, am like the first crow. I like to think things through until I get it. My math teacher might even think that I am annoying because whenever I don't get a topic in class, I ask question after question to try and understand, and it takes up a lot of time in class. I think that a lot of people can relate to this. It can sometimes be frustrating when your friend doesn't want to be patient and only wants to use force. I always say to them that there are many ways to solve a problem but they don't seem to listen.

          This moral can also be with more serious matters like in worldwide disputes. Many countries like to solve their differences with atomic bombs, guns, and soldiers. Both countries will lose many men and eventually one country will win. But does anybody really win during war? Many lives are lost all because two political leaders had a disagreement. They could have resolved it with words and kindness, not death and destruction.

          I feel that patience and wisdom come together in a "package". You cannot have one without the other. Without one you will not be able to be like the first crow. The smart, clever, patient, ingenious, and resourceful crow is the one who got the water and this is the one that you should always aspire to be.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Donkey and the Load of Salt

A wealthy merchant bought many baskets of salt, and tied them on his donkey to carry them to market. On the way, as they crossed a shallow river, the donkey slipped beneath his heavy load and fell into the water. By the time he scrambled to his feet again, half the salt in the baskets had been washed away.
                The merchant cursed at the loss. But the donkey was pleased to discover that the baskets were only half as heavy as before. And he cheerfully carries his lightened load to market.
                At the market, the merchant sold what was left of his salt and bought several bags of sponges. Tying them on the donkey’s back, he set out again for home. When they came to the river, the donkey thought of what happened on his way to the market. He pretended to slip and rolled into the water, hoping his load would be lightened.
                But the sponges were not washed away. Instead, they soaked up water until they swelled fat and heavy. The merchant drove the donkey to his feet again, and the beast staggered home under a load twice as heavy as before.

The method should suit the circumstances.

          That donkey, in my opinion, is really stupid, but I guess that is the whole point of the story. Yet this can happen in real life in a not as stupid context. For example, if two soccer teams are playing each other, then they have to develop their play strategy based on the opposite team. Should they be offensive, defensive, conservative, or aggressive is up to them, but they can't just pick one strategy and hope that it will work for every team that they play. The same goes for school. If you’re studying for a test in math, you're obviously not going to figure out when World War 2 started. And if you are studying in math, you should try and do practice problems because that is usually how you study for math. You can't study for it by reading a book about how math was invented. Reading a book about math is related but the second way will not help you on studying for the math test. Your method of studying should be tailored to the situation.

          I think that the only reason people in this world are successful is that they know many methods on how to move up in the world, whether it’s to flatter someone, or work so hard that you can't even string a sentence together the next day. They know all of these methods so they have a variety to choose from when the occasion hits them. School will teach you some of these things like taking notes and studying, but some of them like, how to flatter your boss, is something you must learn on your own. And then you can use these methods to help you in any kind of situation. But once you master all of these things, you have to know when to use them so you don't end up doing something stupid like the donkey.