Sunday, June 24, 2007


Long ago, there existed a small village at the foot of a tall mountain that observed a strict tradition regarding the old. As soon as a person crossed the age of 65, he or she was considered to have outlived any further use to society. The eldest son of such a person would carry the parent up the mountain and leave the hapless elder to die of old age or starvation - or both.

On one such occasion, the son decided to take his own son with him on the journey up the hill to keep him company on the way down. He put his aged father in a basket and, hanging the basket from his shoulder, began the trek up the mountain with his small son following. At the top of the mountain the son put down the basket, picked up his aged father and sat the old man down on a rock to await his death. Then, without a further backward glance, the young man began the trek down, holding his young son's hand.

After some time, the small boy tugged at his father's hand. "Father, I have something to ask you," said the boy.

"What is the matter?" asked the young man.

"Why did you leave the basket behind?" questioned the boy.

"Because the basket was broken," replied his father.

"But father," continued the boy, "if I don't have the basket, how will I carry you up the mountain when my turn comes to leave you to die?"

The young man stopped dead in his tracks as the impact of the small boy's words hit him. What he had done to his father would one day be done to him by his own son!

Without another word, the young man turned and ran up the mountain. His old father was still sitting on the rock on which he had placed him. Picking up his father, the young man rushed down the mountain with his small son by his side. The tradition was broken. Never again were the old of the village sent up to the top of the mountain to die.