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?

Picture Mine
Picture Mine