In my high school marketing class, someone (not me) had made the claim that something wasn’t fair and that innocuous gripe launched a tangent from the teacher that included one of the best parables I’ve ever heard. It can be used when someone is complaining that life isn’t fair or that the world is against them. The parable goes like this:
In the late 17th century in what is now Providence, there was a series of unsolved murders. They mayor and police chief were under pressure from the townspeople to find out who the serial killer was to put an end to this. They had tried and tried but had no leads. They thought they could figure it out eventually but they needed to buy them some more time so they came up with a plan to frame a drifter. Making an arrest in this case would certainly ease the minds of the townspeople while they pursued the real killer. The mayor and police chief knew of a man who wandered into town and had no friends or family. They had devised a scheme to arrest him for the murders, figuring that no one would put up much of a fuss. The way they determined guilt and innocence in those days was by putting two grapes in a hat; one red and one green. The accused would have to reach into the hat and pull out a grape and if they picked the green grape, they were innocent, if they picked the red grape, they were guilty. Since the mayor knew they needed him to be found guilty they had placed two red grapes in the hat so no matter which one he chose, he would be found guilty. The drifter saw them do this and he thought of his options:
- Do nothing. He had no friends or family and no one would miss him. By taking the blame, it may give the townspeople some peace of mind… at least until the real serial killer struck again
- Tell everyone what is going on. This most likely wouldn’t work because who would believe a drifter over a mayor and police chief. They would cover it up and he would be found guilty anyway.
So the drifter chose the third option
3. The drifter went in front of the townspeople, reached his hand into the hat, pulled out a grape and quickly put it in his mouth and ate it. He then dumped the other grape out of the hat and said “this grape is red; I must have eaten the green grape.”
The point of the story:
Life is going to throw you obstacles. You can do nothing and just accept the outcome. You can complain about them, although most people won’t listen because they have their own obstacles they’re facing. Finally you can make a decision that will change the course of your life. The drifter turned a threat into an opportunity, a weakness into a strength