I thought that this month I might share a sort of a parable with you. This story came to me recently as I labored through the personal travail of the past few months. It is as though there are those out across the country and around the world who wish for everything to stay as it has always been. These people seemingly resent the fact that other people have thoughts that run at a divergence to theirs. They seemingly cannot tolerate thinking
I thought that I would couch my words for this week’s visit with you in the framework of a short story about a poor little orphaned thought. Perhaps you have seen a similar little thought in your own lives. This one particular thought went unused, because no one felt compelled to use their brain and utilize that thought.
Once upon a time, there was a little Thought that found itself sitting under a nice shady tree, beside the most heavily traveled roadway in the kingdom of Fire Land. Like most poor little unused thoughts, this one was quite sad indeed. It knew that there was a reason for its existence, but no one seemed to care that the thought existed.
This poor little Thought decided that it was going to have to become proactive, if it was ever to be used. If people were not going to use the Thought unconsciously, then by golly, it was going to go out and find someone to think it. Little did it know how tough a job this was going to be.
The first person to stride boldly down the road was dressed in an elegant Navy blue suit, one that sported a whole host of gleaming medals and bright gold stripes. She looked quite elegant as she strode past the poor little Thought standing by the side of the road.
“Oh dear me,” cried the thought, “you look like a very important person. Won’t you please stop and think me?”
“How dare you address me, you dirty little thought,” screamed the haughty person. “Can’t you see how well I am dressed? Can’t you see that I know all there is to know? If you were really all that important, I would have thought you already. Now get away, can’t you see that I racing off to do something important.”
Sadly the little Thought turned and walked back to the pleasant shade of the tree next to the side of the road. After a short time, the little Thought saw another person coming toward him. I shall try again, thought the thought.
Stepping boldly from under the shade tree, the little Thought approached the man in a humble fashion. Oh kind sir, I am a poor little unused thought. Won’t you take the time to think me?
“Are you talking to me,” the man hurled back? “Who are you to talk to me? Can’t you see I have my mind all made up? Get away from me and don’t try to confuse me. For you see my mind is all made up you see, and don’t try to confuse me with a thought. I don’t have to think, because my mind is all made up.” And down the road strode the seemingly self-important man.
The Thought was once again sad. The Thought stepped sadly to the side of the road and sought the quiet solace of the shady tree. The Thought let a number people pass by before it got the courage to step back to center of the road to approach another passing person.
Oh kind sir, I am a poor little unused thought. Won’t you take the time to think me? I won’t hurt you.
The person was startled by the onset of a strange little Thought. The person paused and seemed to be on the verge of thinking the Thought. The little Thought became so excited at the thought of being used.
Then the person turned to the thought and said to him, “you are just too different. No one that I have ever met had a thought just like you. I am afraid that if I think you, that people will not like me. They will accuse me of rocking the boat of government.”
“I am just plain afraid to think of anything new,” the startled person stated. I appreciate your offer, but I am just afraid to think a thought as bold as you. I can hardly imagine the trouble that you would cause”
While the little Thought was still not happy, because it had not been used, it began to feel a bit better, because this last person, while not actually thinking the thought, had at least thought about thinking the thought. The little Thought felt that it must be making progress, if it had been thought about. So rather than retreat to the safe protection of the shady tree, the little Thought kept itself planted by the right by the side of the road. It stood there gathering strength to speak to the next person approaching from the north.
The proud person approaching from the north was cloaked in the garb of the local municipal triumvirate. These were the people charge with administering the affairs of the land of Fire Land. Surely such an important person will want to think me thought the little Thought.
Oh kind madam, I am a poor little unused thought. Won’t you take the time to think me?
The kindly lady leaned over and patted the little Thought on the head. “Oh you are such a nice little thought. Someone should really think you.”
These words brightened the heart of the little Thought. Maybe, just maybe this kindly looking lady will think me. Maybe the mission of my short little life will be fulfilled and I will become an official thought. Ah, but this was not to be.
The kindly lad patted the little Thought on the head once more, straightened up and said, “you are such a fine thought, it is a shame that you are so different. We have never thought as you would be thought. And truth be told, we have never done things that way anyway. Good luck in your search to be thought.”
The words of the kindly lady rocked the little Thought to its very roots. Doesn’t anyone in this kingdom want to think a fresh, new thought? Am I to die as an unused, unimportant little Thought with no merit? Oh what a terrible waste that would be. The poor little Thought burst into tears, and sat weeping beneath the shady tree. As a matter of fact, the little Thought cried itself to sleep. And then it began to dream.
What a fine dream it was. The little Thought became thought, and greatly influenced the kingdom. And the little Thought became the famous Thought that everyone claimed to have thought first.
The little Thought was roused from his glorious dreams by the sobbing of a young lad on the other side of the tree. Circling the stately tree, the little Thought sat down next to the weeping lad and tried to console him.
What is your problem young man? Why do you sit weeping under this lovely willow tree? Is there something I can do to help?
The young lad wiped his tears away and said to the little Thought, “thank you for being so concerned, but I do not think that there is anything you can do. For you see, I was told by the brave warriors who protect this land from the ravages of the Red Devil that I am unworthy to be with them, as I have no thoughts within my head.” And once again, the lad began to quietly sob.
“Be of great cheer my young lad,” said the little Thought. “I am the cure to the malady with which you appear to be afflicted. I am a thought just waiting to be thought.”
“But you are such a fine, splendid thought,” said the sad, little lad. “I am not worthy to think such a fine thought as you.”
“Oh please dear lad, think me, use me,” cried the little Thought. “You are my last hope.” And thus it was done. The young lad set off to the capital city in Fire Land, with the fresh new thought planted firmly in his brain.
Since this is a fairy tale, I will close with the famous words, “… and they lived happily ever after, the young lad, and his new thought.” But you and I know the stark reality of the real world. Chances are that if this young lad approached the leaders of just about any municipality in North America with and idea, he would probably be clubbed to death, much like a baby Harp Seal is treated by the skin hunters in the Arctic.
Sorry to say, but thinking is an art that is discouraged by many of the main line proponents of a safer fire service. One of the main missions that I have adopted during the remaining years of my life is to create a corps of thinkers. I don’t mean head-wagging, bobble-headed yes men who will salivate every time I ring the thought bell. I want to be challenged.
One of my favorite replies from you kind folks out there in reader land goes something like this, “… while I don’t usually disagree with what you say (or write), this time I just can’t agree with you. You just did not see how it is with A, or with B, or with C.” Perhaps another working corollary to this might be, “… normally I like what you say, but how could you be so myopic in this case?” A less often heard, but equally appreciated remark might be, “… boy, did you miss the boat on that one.”
No matter how you respond to my writings, from the strongest supporter, to my most ardent critic, I appreciate what each and every one of you have to say. And I appreciated that you had to think. Even if you hate what I had to say, you had to read my words, evaluate my thoughts, and then think a positive or a negative thought in response.
So no matter the tone or tenor of your replies to me, I dearly love you for the thoughts that you expend on my behalf. If you and I can keep this relationship going, there will be no more unused thoughts begging for attention on the side of the road. Thank you my friends.