A Thanksgiving Story

November 23, 2016


A man who lived on the northern frontier of China was skilled in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border.

Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?” Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved to ride.
One day the son fell from the horse, and broke his hip. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

A year later the nomads came in force across the border, and every able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese frontiersmen lost nine of every ten men.
Only because the son was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other.
Truly, blessing turns to disaster, and disaster to blessing: the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.

Other versions here.

Enjoy, rest, and return ready.



4 Responses to “A Thanksgiving Story”

  1. ubrew12 Says:

    “Good people are good because they have come to wisdom through failure” William Saroyan. I didn’t know that when I ran across this in a fortune cookie. It is now glued to my laptop as an admonishment. It is also, I believe, the founding principle of our Democracy. Ben Franklin, at least, knew the value of failure (you light the right light bulb by lighting the wrong one a thousand times). Democracy ‘stupidly’ places leadership in the hands of the people. Why? Because failure makes even the angry, good again. No, not smart. Good. Which is much more important.

  2. rabiddoomsayer Says:

    Tis very appropriate to our current situation.

  3. ubrew12: That’s Thomas Edison, not Ben Franklin (who was a little before light bulbs). 🙂 But the thought is nonetheless true. I’m also mindful of the Winston Churchill quote: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

    Also good reading at this time is Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation. It reads almost like a sermon, but the humility of the great leader comes through.

    (Oh, what a contrast!)

    My main fear is that with a supine press, the incoming regime will try to make future elections permanently in their favor. They have already begun and have achieved some success.

    Indeed, let us rest and return ready.

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    Looking at the “other versions” link gives this gem:

    “When Communist era Premier Chou En-Lai was asked whether or not the French Revolution was good or bad, his response was “It’s too early to tell.”

    One thing I’ve learned over the years is that Pogo was right when he said back around Earth Day that “We have met the enemy and he is us”, and I fear that no amount of bright-sided hopefulness is going to change that. Chou En-Lai was speaking from the oriental frame of reference where things historical perhaps move more slowly, but he didn’t have the specter of CAGW hanging over him in an overcrowded and overextended world. We can’t afford to play idiotic games for four years.

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