Friday, November 14, 2008

The Rich Merchant

A rich man once gave his son 500 gold coins* for a trip the latter was going on. Once the son returned he inquired about his journey. After dispensing with the pleasantries, he came to the question he had been itching to ask.

"So son... was the money enough? How much did you spend?", he enquired

"500 gold coins", the son said.

"Haha... that was the amount I gave you. How much is left?"

"Nothing is left. First day we went on this boat trip, then had this delicious dinner..."

"What?! You mean to say you have no money left after the trip?", the father asked in an alarmed tone

"Was I supposed to?", the son said, bewildered.

The father snapped.

"You wastrel, you idiot, you pampered brat! This irresponsibility is your mother's fault! There was a time in my life I could not afford three square meals a day. At your age if my father had given me 50 gold coins, I would have spent 10, told him that I spent 25, put the 15 coins in the bank and returned the rest. I was expecting this kind of sharpness from you. Instead, you come and stand before me having spent everything. At this rate, you will just eat away all the wealth that I have amassed with so much care. What do you have to say for your irresponsibility?"

The son regarded the tirade coolly. He was used to it.

"Your father was poor, so you had to scrounge. My father is rich, so I don't have to!"


While this may seem frivolous, the fact is the retort is absolutely spot on. It is amazing how many authorities do not grasp the significance of this simple moral. Contexts change, moral views change, outlooks change. The best strategy to preempt rebellion is to take the European way and create a space for new outlooks within the existing framework.


brat said...

Reminds me of something that someone, who once tried to teach me about creative boundaries and how to track them, told me.

themiddler said...


But did he say something like this? Hmph... should pay more attention in class :P