Parables and fables have been used for centuries to teach wisdom to children, and adults as well. This is one I learned as a child about honesty and integrity.
In a peaceful village nestled between mountains many of the people of the town raised sheep for food and for their wool to use or sell. They didn’t use fences much because of the vast and varied areas of lush green grasses to feed the sheep and keep them happy. The shepherds led the sheep to fields with nearby creeks so they could drink from the calm, running water from the mountain tops knowing that water was clean and clear .
The more sheep an owner had, the more ewes they had; the more ewes they had, the more lambs; the more lambs this year, the more sheep the next; the more sheep next year, the more wool; the more wool they had to sell, the more money. Also the more sheep they had, the more mutton to feed the family. If you’ve never seen a sheep being sheared for its wool, take a look at this YouTube link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53KoRxxr1jc .
I have seen competitions for the fastest shearing that did not look so gentle. But good sheep shearers do not want to scare the sheep, which could make them less cooperative next time. This sheep is not being abused but is being shorn of the wool that protected it in winter. If unshorn the sheep could be very hot in the spring and summer depending on where it lived.
I found a video on YouTube about a sheep who had been lost in Austrailia for about 6 years. His wool weighted 89 pounds! The weight of the wool alone could have hidden all kinds of parasites or physical problems and make it difficult for him to get up if he fell. So shearing is necessary now since sheep have been bred to grow more wool each year. Here’s the link about him if you are interested. I sure was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2yzYC3Loe4
On with the story. Each flock needed someone to watch over them as they grazed on the hillsides. There were many perils the sheep might encounter: pregnant ewes could go into labor and have life threatening, difficult deliveries; a newborn lamb might be sickly; an older lamb could wander away from its mother and become lost in the dark and fall prey to a hidden, hungry wolf. Each sheep was important to the sheep’s owners to support their families.
Often the job of watching the sheep became the job of the children or child of a family who owned the flock. Sometimes shepherds were hired to help take care of the flocks depending on the size of the flock or the amount of land the sheep grazed on.
One of the biggest dangers were the predators of the sheep, and especially the lambs. So each flock depending on the number of sheep in the flock had at least one shepherd. In case of a predator the shepherds were trained with sling shots as David in the Bible was, or with other weapons depending on the size of the predator.
One sunny afternoon a lone shepherd was bored, lonesome, and wanted some fun. He came up with a plan for some entertainment. The sheep were quite safe and content. Nevertheless the boy went running down the hill towards the town, Screaming, “WOLF! WOLF! Help! Help!”
As expected the townspeople dropped whatever they were doing to come help the boy and the sheep. When they arrived, they were out of breath and stunned to see the sheep grazing contentedly and the shepherd rolling on the ground holding his sides, laughing at how funny he thought the towns people looked! Their faces changed from anxiety and fear to anger at the boy’s impudence and mischief. They left to return to their work.
That night the boy’s father warned him of what a dangerous precedent he had set by lying to and tricking the people into coming to his aid, when there was no danger!
The next day the shepherd boy awoke from a nap and decided to try again. This time he cried, “There are two wolves after the flock! Please come help me!”
Again the townspeople, being the good people they were, came running up the hill to help defend the sheep against the wolves. When they saw there were no wolves, they were even more angry with the boy! They did not appreciate running up the hill to help someone who had lied to them, not just once but twice and then laughed at them for trusting him! If he continued to repeat this same trick, the townspeople decided they would not come help him again!
Well, if you’ve heard this story, you know what happened. A few days later there really was a wolf who chased the sheep and scattered them before grabbing a lamb for dinner later. The boy spent the whole time calling for help, “Wolf, Wolf! Please come help me! I am telling the truth this time!!”
The villagers heard his cries as before but this time did not come to his aid. They knew he was a liar and would only laugh at them again! His lies and attitude about his “pranks” did not help his reputation, nor did they inprove the towns people’s trust in him.
When someone lies at first it is hard for those hearing them to discern what is true and what is false. One’s words, the way one speaks to others, the tone of one’s voice, one’s facial expressions and behaviors speak volumes about who one really is. Being honest is a sign of integrity. While growing up I was taught to be honest. Because I was a person of my word people knew I had integrity and trusted me. Honesty is such a precious and valuable quality to have.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”