The Price Of Indifference
(African Wisdom)

    A long time ago when animals could speak, there were two villages where, after the harvest, there was dancing and singing. They was no pollution because they were far away from the city. Between them flowed a river abounding with fish.

    One day, there was a great commotion in one of the villages. In the other village, a bull and a sheep were grazing together. The sheep said to the bull, “Listen! There seems to be a commotion on the other side. I hear noises. People must be fighting.”

    To this the bull replied, “What is happening in the village on the other side does not concern me. Let me graze in peace. It’s not my problem.”

    In the meantime, in the other village, a mouse and a lizard were quarrelling and the lizard was pursuing the mouse in order to catch it. In trying to escape, the mouse jumped from one spot to another and it landed in a fire. However, since the mouse kept on jumping, it set the straw huts on fire. It was not long before the whole village was on fire. That day, because it was windier than usual, some sparks flew to the village on the other side of the river. In a short time, both villages had been burnt to the ground and all the people were left with nothing. In the village where the fire had started, a sick woman had been forgotten and so she perished in the fire.

    The next day, people from neighboring villages came to the two villages that were in ruins. The neighboring villagers immediately said that meat was needed for the survivors. Everything that could be found -– geese, chickens, etc. -- was gathered. On the second day, people started saying that more meat was needed because the crowd that had come to help was getting larger. Thus, it became necessary to take the sheep also. This was the end of the sheep.

    On the third day, the day of the benedictions, there was an even greater crowd present and hence it was said that the food was not sufficient, and so a bull would be required. The bull that was there was taken and sacrificed. Thus, the same bull that did not care what had been happening and the sheep that had been asking what was going on both ended up in the pot to feed the crowd present.

    In my village it is often said: this is what indifference leads to and this is what can happen when there is a small quarrel between two individuals.

-- from an Unknown Author

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