Moral Of The Story

I read a version of this story somewhere many years ago. I believe someone sent it to me in the mail. Ergo, don’t bop me over the head if you’ve read it before.

There was a farmer who was an enthusiastic horse breeder. He specialized in breeding race horses. He collected different breeds of horses from all over the world; the rarer the better. He needed one more breed to complete his collection. One day, he found out that a young male of the breed he needed was available. At great cost and after almost six months of negotiation with the owner, the farmer ultimately acquired the horse. He was overjoyed.

A month later, the new horse fell ill. The farmer called the veterinarian, who said, “Your horse has contacted a rare and highly contagious virus. You will have to segregate him from the other horses. I will come and give him medicine shots everyday. If he is not fully recovered by the third day, I’m afraid we’ll have to put him down lest the other horse catch the virus.”

Nearby, an intelligent pig listened closely to their conversation.

Once the vet had left, the pig approached the horse and said,  “Be strong, my friend. Get up or else they’re going to put you to sleep!”

The horse was so ill that he couldn’t even open his eyes in response to the pig’s words. The pig kept visiting the sick horse all day long, encouraging him, reading him inspiring stories. Although still very sick, by the end of the day the horse could prick up his ears to show that he could hear what the pig was saying.

On the second day after the vet left, the pig came back and said, “Come on buddy, get up or else you’re going to die! Come on, I’ll help you get up. Let’s go! One, two, three…! That’s wonderful!”

But the effort to stand proved too much for the horse. He collapsed, his legs trembling, his head drooping. Again that day, the pig visited the horse from time to time, cajoling him to eat, telling him hilarious jokes, telling him inspiring stories of other animals having overcome incredible odds. The horse was genuinely inspired.

On the third day, the vet examined the horse, gave him the shot and said, “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to put him down tomorrow. We can’t take the risk of having the other horses infected.”

After they left, the pig approached the horse and said, “Listen my dear friend. It’s now or never! Get up, come on! Have courage! Come on! Get up! Get up! That’s it, slowly! Great! Come on, one, two, three… Good, good. Now take a step, lean on me. That’s right, that’s wonderful. Now another! Good, good! Go on now, lets get out of this place. Wonderful! Now faster, come on…. Fantastic! Run! Run more! Yes! Yay! Yes! You did it, you’re a champion!!

Hearing the sounds of hoofs, the farmer came running out of his house. He saw the horse running in the field and began shouting, “It’s a miracle! My horse is cured. This calls for a party.

“Let’s kill the pig!”

This is a funny story, no doubt. Since we don’t like to be preached at, we have come up with a way of camouflaging  a lesson as a joke.

This is one of those pseudo-intellectual management fables which make you grind your teeth in annoyance, for being cunning while professing to be wise. Yet, if you put the obvious aside, the story can create a moment of awareness for you. A good fable doesn’t have just one lesson to teach.

The obvious moral of the story is: Don’t be a good Samaritan like the pig; you’ll only get killed for it.

In other words, don’t go out of your way to do things for your organization, or your colleagues/ friends. Nobody will notice it, nobody will care. Watch out for yourself… only yourself. Never volunteer your concern or vision for the good of another.

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.

~Isaac Asimov

In the garb of self-preservation, it recommends pathological self-obsession. While I am a big fan of rational self-interest, I doubt if a single-minded obsession with your own benefit, divorced from the good of others, is a frightfully effective strategy for the long-term.

I am certain you identified with the pig. Don’t feel bad, I did too. We all love being the martyr. Few, very few, of us identify with the horse and none at all with the farmer. Yet, the farmer wasn’t a bad man.

By his lights, the farmer did nothing wrong. He was hasty and careless, it is true. But that’s hardly a sin.

He had a lot to lose with the death of the horse. When he was snatched away from the proverbial jaws of death, he naturally wanted to celebrate. He didn’t know that the hand which has pulled him back from the edge was the pig’s. Perhaps the pig should have told him.

He did not confirm whether the horse was genuinely well or not. He had no idea if he had a real cause for celebration.

Both these errors are easy to identify when you are not a part of the story. Prudence demands that he should have known about both the things. How, we ask in outrage, could he be so clueless?

Perhaps you too have killed a few pigs in your life. Pigs, who should have been worth more to you than your entire farm.

What is the Moral Of The Story for you?

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28 thoughts on “Moral Of The Story”

  1. Erm…”Don’t be a pig?” Or rather : “Don’t be a stupid pig!” ?
    I’ve probably been that pig far too many times. Except, I’ve always managed to run away from the slaughter. I suppose, I’ll always continue to give what I think is good advice, but also keep an ear and eye out for the farmer with his large butchering knife. Or meat cleaver. *Sigh* – all that talk about meat and food is making me hungry 🙂

  2. Been the pig sometimes, never killed off a few. Been the horse too, though I never intended for the pig to get slaughtered. Sometimes, the pig has even lived to tell the tale 🙂 Good moral. Don’t go out of your way to do something for someone (unless you can be sure that someone won’t be in a hurry to kill you afterward).

    Sad I missed the first, but glad I didn’t miss the post 🙂

    1. No horse ever wanted a pig to lose his life. I am sure you never did either. Being a wide pig comes down to Rational Self-Interest and a bit of prudence Vinay. 🙂

      You might have missed the first by a few seconds. 🙂

  3. Been the Pig very recently and it still rankles ! So frankly for the sake of self preservation I am now vary of doing good unless I am very sure of the receiver of my goodness. But may be I am being cynical 🙂

    1. It is very hurting to be prosecuted when you’ve gone out of your way to do your best selflessly. It is natural to be wary after such an unpleasant experience. Perhaps you’ll do it in a way that protects your interests too next time.

      Thanks for coming by 🙂

  4. I am hearing this story for the first time. And my immediate reaction after reading the line “Let’s kill the pig!” was – What???? I just can’t relate to this mindset of instant party calls at the drop of a hat 🙂 Seriously, the moral of the story for me is not about what the pig did or shouldn’t have done. For me, the moral is certainly about how should I be running my farm. Shouldn’t I be paying attention to who all are visiting this sick horse? Or would I have just left the horse alone after the vet’s daily visit? It is about what kind of a leader I would be if I were one. And I find it strange really that this is how I feel about this story at this moment, because I hardly think of myself as having any leadership characteristic or inclination or temperament. O well….

    1. That’s why the wise recommend that we ‘know ourselves’ first of all. See, you didn’t think you had leadership skills. Lo and behold! Your capacity to be a balanced, calm leader are intuitive and well- developed. 🙂 Isn’t that wonderful? 🙂

  5. Been the pig almost all the time and it was one of the reasons I burnt out much faster at work than most people. And frankly I dont think i have learnt my lesson, I continue being the pig many a times 🙁

    1. Well Seeta, personally I like pigs. Being one myself, I was never one to wait until someone told me there was work to be done. I volunteer… I go the extra mile… I take ownership. To NOT do it would take too much effort and create decided stress in my life. 😀

  6. Oprah’s words appeals to me. But then, what she has said is as old as our scriptures. We have stories from our own scriptures outlining the right (integral) way of leading our lives. Whatever happens beyond that is out of our sphere of influence, control and all that, but then our conscience would be clean and clear. What would make a better pillow than that!

    1. Prathima, your last sentence was like a benediction. I can say nothing after that. Just smile and say… what indeed!?

      Thank you for your visit… always a pleasure! 😀

  7. I hate being taken for granted, period! On a slightly different note, my father has taught me that when you do good, do it with no expectations — not appreciation, not reciprocation, not money, fame, recognition. Just do it because it makes you feel good and because you enjoy doing it. I have been trying to be true to that spirit. And I’ve noticed that it rankles less if others badmouth you or are jealous of you or hate you if you follow this approach. In a way — “Karma kar phal kee chinta na kar” is a philosophy that does take us very close to spiritual fulfillment.

    1. Rachna, I doubt if there’s anyone who doesn’t hate to be taken for granted. When I do something for somebody, I don’t expect them to thank me or to sing my praises. I don’t even expect acknowledgement. But if they think that it was my duty to help them and they have the right to expect more of me, Uh Huh! Nada. I’d see them dead first. 😀

      1. I was just talking about my side of story to keep myself sane. I have to be a fool to do anything for someone so shallow. I’d see them dead first too :D.

        1. I know, right? Did you ever read a post of mine called Square Pegs? Sid shared it yesterday. I’d like you to read it. 😀

  8. I hope that the wise pig found a way out of the ‘gallows’!
    Interesting thought, Dagny. Frankly, we have all been one of the principle characters of the story at one time or another in life. Most of the time though, we don’t even know that we are playing the part until much later, in hindsight.

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