Familiar Situation of the Week

One nightfall a man travelling on horseback toward the sea reached an inn by the roadside. He dismounted, and confident in man and night like all riders toward the sea, he tied his horse to a tree beside the door and entered into the inn.

At midnight, when all were asleep, a thief came and stole the traveller’s horse.

In the morning the man awoke, and discovered that his horse was stolen. And he grieved for his horse, and that a man had found it in his heart to steal.

Then his fellow-lodgers came and stood around him and began to talk.

And the first man said, “How foolish of you to tie your horse outside the stable.”

And the second said, “Still more foolish, without even hobbling the horse!”

And the third man said, “It is stupid at best to travel to the sea on horseback.”

And the fourth said, “Only the indolent and slow of foot own horses.”

Then the traveller was much astonished. At last he cried, “My friends, because my horse is stolen, you have hastened one and all to tell me my faults and shortcomings. But strange, not one word of reproach have you uttered about the man who stole my horse.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Forerunner, 1920, pp. 33 – 34

4 thoughts on “Familiar Situation of the Week

    1. Well, that’s just what I would expect from everyone’s favorite curmudgeon.

      When our house was broken into in Asia many years ago, the first question everyone asked was why we hadn’t locked all our interior doors (e.g. the door from living room into bedroom).

      What I’ve noticed is that, when someone becomes the victim of a crime, people hasten to point out “how the crime could have been prevented” … shouldn’t have gone on that date, shouldn’t have married that guy, shouldn’t have parked in that neighborhood, shouldn’t have gone out to report on that riot, shouldn’t have tried to defend their store from that looter. All well and good, and the victim is no doubt having the same thoughts. But this does not mean that the victim was the actual perpetrator. Yes, I do “lay the blame on somebody else” … the person who committed the actual crime. People lose sight of that. I think they do it in order to reassure themselves that something similar could not happen to them. Notice that the fourth guy actually goes so far as to say it’s the victim’s’ fault for having been wealthy, taking things in a sort of communist direction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mercy and compassion are hard lessons to learn. We’re going through Job at church and that is one thing that is on display front and center, in a bad way of course.

        But. I have a hard time sympathizing with someone who is just reaping the rewards of their misguided (or stupid if I’m feeling more me’ish) action. Like that guy who tied his horse outside. If there hadn’t been a stable, then I’d have no issue. But there was a stable and he chose to not use it (probably because he was a yankee and too cheap!). We live in a fallen world and to live like we don’t has consequences.

        Trying to balance those 2 things is a trial sometimes 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, it did remind me of that scene at the end of Little House on the Prairie where the Ingalls come across a couple who are stranded because their horses were stolen in the night. They can’t convince the couple to get a ride with them to the nearest town. Pa spends the next several minutes clucking his tongue and saying, “Tenderfeet! Didn’t chain their horses, just tied them. Don’t even have a dog. Tenderfeet!”

          On the other hand, even Pa Ingalls with all his savvy got his family into quite a few situations that could have been fatal, such as bad river crossings, Indian massacres, prairie fires, malaria. Nowadays, he’d probably be considered an unfit parent. Back then, those were risks people were willing to take. But any time something bad happens, we can always point to something the victim did that wasn’t ideal, even if we have to go as far as “You should not have been there.”

          This is set in the Middle East, so I don’t think the dude was a Yankee. 😉 Possibly, arriving at night, did not even see that the inn had a stable. Who knows? Too trusting? Sure. Which is more morally culpable, the person who is too trusting, or the actual thief? That’s the point of this post.

          Liked by 1 person

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