Once Upon a Time

There was a farmer.  This farmer had a very large family, an enormous farm, and was very prosperous.  As his sons grew and married, they built houses and began farming the nearby land that the father had never farmed.  Neighbors came on hard times.  This saddened the farmer.  He wanted to help.  So, he asked his sons to bring him some of their profits in order to share with their impoverished neighbors.

Each year, the neighbors needed more–and there were more neighbors. The sons weren’t confident in their ability to keep giving at an increasing rate.  The father insisted.  Out of love and honor for their father, they conceded.  Their profit margins were less, but it was ok.  Their families were fed, their children clothed and educated, and they could meet their obligations.

Some of the neighbors complained that the farmer’s sons were overusing resources.  The farmer began paying some of his sons not to grow their crops.  Some of those sons liked it–others not so much.  Over time, the money the sons gave weren’t enough and they said, “No more.  If we give more, our families will suffer.”  So the father hired men to enforce the new contribution amounts.  He hauled his own sons off to jail when they couldn’t give the money required. He sent those same men’s sons to fight in feuds between some of those neighbors while demanding more money to pay for the fight.

Even then, there just wasn’t enough money to give to everyone who needed it–and it was a need.  By this time, houses were falling apart.  Children were going without the education they needed.  The food costs locally were outrageous because of the amount of food given away to those who didn’t work to earn it.  The farmer borrowed.  And borrowed.  The sons panicked.  Begging their father to think about what he was doing.  They couldn’t grow more–the father wouldn’t let them.  They couldn’t do with less–their children would starve.  The farmer was giving away and borrowing more than the family could ever recover from.  The grandsons were ready to revolt, but they loved their grandfather.  They didn’t want to dishonor their family.

But what is a man to do when he is stripped of the fruits of his labors, thrown into debt that he can never hope to pay, and watches his entire extended family give away everything as the debtors come calling for payment?

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