A Parable about Inflexibility by Thomas Grant MacDonald
There was once a poor but ambitious farmer who was determined to create a better life for himself and his family. Towards this end he scrupulously examined his crops and the operation of his farm, always searching for practical ways to improve its operation and increase its yield. He devised new methods of agriculture and husbandry that were laughed at by the local townsfolk. However, in time the farmer perfected his new systems and eventually became rich. Soon the farmer fell under the gaze of local officials, who felt threatened by the farmer’s growing wealth and influence. The farmer was taken in front of the high court and placed on trial for his development of unconventional, heretical ideas. Being a man of intelligence and practical resourcefulness, however, the farmer evaded the legal traps set by his prosecutors and was eventually acquitted of all charges. Hearing of these events, the local Magistrate became impressed by the farmer’s cunning and ingenuity. The farmer’s methods were implemented throughout all the realm, and he was elevated to Knight and gifted a beautiful suit of armor. At first the Knight was very happy, but soon became terrified of losing all he had gained. He renounced his inquisitive nature and subscribed unflinchingly to the dogmatic laws of the land. He began considering all those who contested the status quo as his enemies, and wore his armor at all times for fear of being killed.
Eventually the Knight’s youngest son, who possessed the ingenuity that his father had long-since abandoned, devised a more efficient method of crossing the river that served as a boundary between his kingdom and the next. The young boy employed his new method to quickly ferry people across the river at a discounted rate, reducing the unfair taxes levied by the Magistrate. Upon learning of this, the Magistrate became enraged and commanded the Knight arrest his own son. The Knight obediently rode to the crossing in his suit of armor, boarded the ferry, and demanded his son to destroy the new ferry and surrender himself to the Magistrate. As they floated in the middle of the river, the son attempted to explain to his father the logic and practicality of the new system, but the Knight refused to listen. The son then asked the Knight, “Father, why have you come to me with your sword and armor? Can we not simply consider the practical merits of this system?” The Knight, not wishing to debate the situation on rational grounds, drew his sword and reached to place his son under arrest. The boy, being nimble and unburdened, dodged his father’s attack, sending the Knight splashing into the river, where he drowned under the weight of his own armor.