Another Parable

Another Parable


Leonard Zwelling

There was a new king in the castle. His predecessor managed to shoot himself in the foot so many times that he had no leg left to stand on. Then he lost his head.

The new king was going to be different. He was going to be a king for all the people, not just the elite in the small village that surrounded the castle and the advisors at court.

Those people in the surrounding village consisted of farmers who grew the food that fed everyone and even provided food to neighboring villages built on less fertile land. The farmers employed the vast majority of the rest of the populace as field laborers and harvesters. There was also a small, elite group of craftsmen who generated the wares for which the village was known throughout the land. They enjoyed special favor with previous kings and were suspect of the new king’s pledge to treat everyone the same.

As was the case from time to time, the craftsmen came to be resented by the farm workers who were not as well off. Disputes erupted and it sometimes came to the king to adjudicate the disputes. The immediate past king left dispute resolution to his wife, the queen, and to his underlings. He never got his hands dirty until he started to raise the taxes on the craftsmen who eventually made it clear to the king that they paid the bills and were not going to stand for this nonsense of paying a king’s ransom just to do business. But the king never backed off. The craftsmen stopped paying taxes. The king was gone shortly thereafter.

The new king, aware of the fate of the man who came before him, took dispute resolution on himself. In fact, he made all the key decisions as he surrounded himself with mediocre advisors who were unqualified to serve a king let alone resolve disputes among the king’s subjects.

Being that the king wanted to level the status of everyone in the village who was not working directly for him. He tended to side with the farm workers in their disputes with the craftsmen. The craftsmen began to fear the new king because they were sure he was going for their fortunes.

Then, one day, the king decided that one craftsman had gone too far in disciplining one of the farm workers who had come to the craftsman’s shop. The farmer had come dressed in rags and drove the paying customers out of the shop. The craftsman asked him to go. The farm worker refused and said he had as much right to be there as anyone else. The king said so. The craftsman said it was his store and he could serve who he wished.

The king sided with the farm worker and banished the craftsman from the village.

The other craftsmen were appalled, but frightened. Would one of them be next?

They called a secret meeting in the back room of the tavern.

“What shall we do?” said the goldsmith.

“Talk to the king and reason with him. We make the profits that pay the taxes that support the rest of the village,” said the miller.

The king wouldn’t see them. Instead, he sent them a note that should any of them be caught acting unprofessionally, they too would be banished from the village.

The craftsmen met again the next night in the tavern’s back room.

“What now?” asked the goldsmith.

“Yes, the word has already spread through the land. New craftsmen do not want to come to our village to bolster our economy,” cried the miller.

Then the richest craftsman of them all, the tool maker, rose to speak.

“The new king does not respect us. He doesn’t see that we are the reason he sits on a profitable margin. We have only two courses of action. We can all stop working or we can all leave. I personally do not wish to stop working. I have already inquired with the village up the road and they would love for me to move there and I am thinking about it.”

“That’s fine for you,” said the miller, “but I cannot readily move my mill.”

“Sure, you can,” said the tool maker. And they all followed him to the next town.

The new king presided over the demise of his own kingdom for without the craftsmen, he had no tax revenue and people didn’t come to the town to shop.

The moral of the story is to value that which keeps you on the throne for if you don’t, you may not be there for long.

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