tagHow ToHow to: Evaluate a Master

How to: Evaluate a Master


As an 'older' writer, from a far off land, this time of year causes me to reflect many unusual experiences and remember events that shaped my life and made me who I am. Books that you study at school tend to alter the way you think. George Orwell wrote the classic tale 'Animal Farm' which parodied the concepts of Russia's Communist Government. Having lasting effects on me, his works trained my mind to be even more analytical. Naturally I studied the law, taking particular interest in abuses of human rights. I questioned the motives of our politicians, especially when casting my vote. You might remember, in 'Animal Farm' the politicians were the pigs and the down trodden workers were the horses, and so on. For some odd reason, I always thought about the human race in much the same way from then on.

Increasing bureaucratic intervention locally, and current move toward globalisation in central Government worry me the most. Everybody told me that you can't fight this but I never believed them. However, I do concede that it's an uphill battle to achieve success. With increased apathy out there over the last forty years or so, horses have invariably lost the battle in more recent times. I thought about donkeys instead, more and more as I grew older.

Throughout these most depressing of times there was a sad story, that I once read many years ago, that made me think positively and kept me focused. The story was both poignant yet heart-warming, spiritually uplifting and also very thought provoking. I would now like to share this fantastic tale with all my readers, for their consideration, and hopefully to alleviate some of the apathy that exists in the world today.

As many of you will be aware, the donkey has been blessed with extraordinary qualities of determination, strength and uses an incredible amount of common sense. Donkeys are widely regarded as being loving and docile, creatures that have aided man's journey through life, throughout our history. They rarely waste energy but they can carry enormous burdens to any given destination, largely without complaint. Sadly, they are frequently mistreated but somehow they never lose sight of their true purpose in life, that of usefulness to mankind. -------Sorry, I digress. Part of my rapidly advancing Alzheimer's problem, I believe. Now where was I? I need another tissue. Oh yes, I'll tell you the story first!

* * * * *

Many years ago, in a dry arid spell of weather, an elderly donkey was shuffling around looking for moist areas of vegetation to supplement his water intake requirements. The donkey had been part of a herd but the others had been sold. Now, he was over thirty years old, but had learned the art of self sufficiency because his Master wasn't wealthy and the small property that he farmed and worked on had only meagre amounts of water supply available. He looked towards the bottom of the dry well but as he leaned forward his footing slipped and he tumbled into the abyss, landing without leg injury luckily, thirty feet down.

The animal brayed loudly and got back to his feet, looking for a way of getting back to the surface. It was no use to try climbing, so the donkey waited patiently for his Master. He used the intervening time, THINKING.

Many hours later, surprised to see that the old donkey was otherwise unhurt, his Master tried to think of a way to extract the unfortunate beast. Ultimately the man decided that this task was impossible and turned to a few of his younger, fitter neighbours, for their advice. Despite all their combined efforts and different ideas, their ropes all broke and their plans failed. Sadly, the miserable donkey was unable to be retrieved from the bottom of the well by economic means, in their view. Fortunately, unlike a horse, a donkey never panics.

It was decided that the donkey was getting too old for working and of course the dried out well was totally useless. The men were all equally perplexed as they discussed the solution. One bright spark suggested that they kill two birds with one stone as it were, by digging a new well and thus burying the helpless donkey under the freshly excavated material, ultimately putting the trapped animal out of it's misery by suffocating it. It seemed like there was no alternative solution so, recognising the need for a new well, the donkey's Master reluctantly agreed with his neighbours and began digging.

After raining many shovelfuls of dirt and stones down the well, over the top of the noisy donkey, the braying finally stopped and the men carried on with their digging in peace. The only sound came from the grunting and cursing, as they continued with their efforts to locate a fresh water source that would benefit the entire neighbourhood.

Later on in the day, one man thought of a much better way of digging a well. By manufacturing a crude auger and hitching up the donkey onto a revolving yoke, This would drive the drill into the earth. Although a far better option than hand digging, his bright idea had come to pass far too late. They really should have put more effort into saving his hard working friend, the donkey, initially.

Tears ran down the farmers cheek. As the friends dug further into the ground, he kept thinking about how his faithful old workmate, and how he must have felt about being buried alive. He shut his mind to this, working even harder than the younger men, ensuring that his donkey's carcass would be completely buried by the time they finished digging, mostly trying to ease his conscience.

All the men assumed that the distressed animal must have died, by the time they stopped for their dinner and a well earned rest. They made arrangements to finish their work the next day. There was an enormous pile of dirt which had fallen short of the old well but the tired old farmer volunteered to transfer the excess dirt into the disused well, on his own, while his helpful neighbours trudged their way back home.

With a heavy heart he worked his way toward the old well, shovelling the rest of the dirt ahead of him, as he moved closer toward the edge of the dried out well. It would take years of hard labour, like this, to save up enough money to purchase another donkey.

The tired farmer staggered to the edge and threw in the last shovelful of dirt, wiping the sweat from his forehead and cursing his misfortunes.

The farmer looked down, to ascertain how much more room was available for landfill, inside what had certainly become his donkey's grave. He saw, to his amazement, that his old friend was still alive. Each time a fresh shovel load of dirt had landed on top of him the donkey shook his entire body, shaking himself clean, and then trampled the excess dirt beneath him. He had a quiet determined look in his eyes but the farmer could see that the donkey bore him no ill will. Now the animal was only a matter of a few feet away from obtaining his freedom, or was he? He still had the same Master, after all.

* * * * *

The moral of the story was obvious to me at the time I first read it. It changed the course of my life as a result, making me a far better person. [It did no harm financially, as well.] It made me a lot more philosophical in my approach to everything I did in later life. As a matter of fact, I believe that our most valuable possession, as most of us travel through life, resides between our ears whenever it gets used properly. I devised a few simple rules to follow along the way.

Think of all your troubles as another one of life's stepping stones.

Remember, life is basically unfair. You've got to get used to this.

People will always shovel dirt on you. [All manner of dirt normally.] The most important lesson to be learned is to rise above it and never give in to your initial reactions. Chucking dirt back is never useful and can only lead to further heartbreak.

You should live simply at all times, giving a lot but expecting less in return.

Keep your mind free from hatred because thoughts of revenge are quite counter productive.

[Imagine how much more useful and economic that simple approach might have been, following the universally upsetting events of last year.]

Now the human race is teetering on edge of self extinction, all over again. Problems only seem to be worsening, with all the aggressive posturing that's currently going on between our so called leaders.

Perhaps they should concentrate more effort on thinking laterally for solutions, instead. On a personal level, we could encourage this line of thought and make our voices of disapproval heard whenever our elected leaders step out of line.

Keep thinking about improving your communications and encouraging the more charitable aspects of whatever this short life of ours has to offer.

For example, feel free to publish this work, providing it's unedited, wherever you live. Send letters to newspapers, all over the country. Make your feelings known, by whatever legitimate means.

[There is much more satisfaction to be derived by benefiting your enemies, as there by reacting in irrational anger, as crazy as this might seem.]

People need to be obstinate and determined in their efforts to select a conscientious leader. One who truly has the interests of the entire species at heart. Perhaps I should explain what I mean by making this simple statement;

I now live on a small farm in New Zealand, in my retirement. The small herd of Donkeys that share my home select their own leader, using the same criteria. They remain a constant source of inspiration to me.

Comments, both good and bad, may be made by writing to Barbara.

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