THE story is told of a young man and his father who set out one morning for the fair, in a bid to sell their donkey. Funds were low, the rains had not come for a long time, and they needed some way of putting food on the table for the next month or so.
When they set out, the old man rode on the donkey and his son walked alongside the beast. But they had gone just a few miles, when they came upon a number of women who stopped and stared, and then started to shout at them.
“How can you ride on the beast when you have a boy of such a tender age? You are forcing him to walk while you have a nice restful journey. Shame on you,” they yelled.
The old man was taken aback. Ashamed of himself, he quickly stopped the donkey, dismounted and then asked his son to get up on the beast. And they continued towards the market this way.
A few miles later, they encountered another group of peasants. This bunch too stopped and stared and then started to rant.
“Look at that overfed fellow. He rides on the donkey while his old, frail father is forced to walk. Have you no respect for age?” they shouted.
The old man wondered what to do. He was leading the donkey and so he stopped the animal, climbed on top himself and both father and son rode on the donkey.
But they had not made much progress before they came across a bunch of people leading their own donkeys in the opposite direction. One of this crowd went ballistic. “Have you ever seen such a shameful spectacle? Here are two grown human beings, well-fed, and in the prime of life, yet both have no consideration for that animal. How would you like it if I rode on your back?” this man asked.
The old man had nothing to counter this argument. He asked his son to dismount and did so himself as well. They both walked besides the donkey after that.
But the story is not over. Several miles down the road, they were again criticised for making a young donkey walk when it looked like the animal was about to collapse (or so the accuser said). “Carry that animal, you blighters,” he barked.
When they reached the fair, the old man and his son were carrying the donkey on their heads. They could not sell the beast because people thought they were both insane as they were carrying a beast of burden; there were also doubts that the donkey was on its last legs.
Lesson: You cannot please everyone. Make a reasoned decision and stick with it.