Following is a short story. After reading it, answer a few questions:
Whose fault is it the boy is suffering?
What should the boy do?
What has the boy done wrong/right?
Thanks for participating in this little thought experiment :)
Long ago, there spanned a great desert. Tribes would gather and move their caravans in search of water and life. Every day was met with struggle and hardship, and every night was met with cold winds and the howls of savage beasts. Only in the security of a caravan could one hope to survive, could hope to last more than a fortnight drifting on the sifting sands. It was in this land a child was born. The boy grew in a small tribe which rarely met with the outside world. His father, who had seen the darkness and despair of the world, grew bitter and harsh; for this was the nature of the desert, and only the callous could survive. His mother, who had viewed the same darkness, sowed seeds of compassion and love for the world and it's people; for this was the nature of the desert, and the people of the sands needed a refuge from cruelty. Day by day, the boy grew older. His days were filled with the harsh lessons of the father, who would beat and ridicule him mercilessly. He would be sent into the desert alone as a challenge, to toughen his spirit for he knew the world would not show mercy to him. But during the night, his mother would hold him in her embrace and sing soft songs and comforting words, for she knew that the world did not show mercy, because none dared. The boy grew in duality, the harshness of his lessons toughened his spirit, the slings and arrows of the world made him strong and prepared, yet this hardness was tempered by a spirit of compassion, a wish that all man might live in peace, and what little peace he could bring would form the foundation of a world worth living in. The boy came of age, and grew spiteful of his father. In the dead of night, he stole away his mother giving him the supplies he would need to live for some time. As he wandered the desert, his soul began to ache. The pains of the past lingered in his mind, replaying as terrifying memories and nightmares, and the desert began to feel more and more barren.
One day, he stumbled upon a different tribe's caravan. A colorful people whose wagons stretched for miles took in the young wanderer and it was here he found a lover. She reassured him and day by day the pains of the past became less and less. There were even whispers of them starting their very own caravan, to set out into that desert at each other's side. For years with his new people, the boy finally felt at home.
One day, the boy awoke and the caravan had left without him. A single "goodbye" from the women he loved and once again he found himself in the barren desert, with no food, no water and nothing to his name. The boy scrambled to find safety, a new pain in his heart and tears in his eyes as the fleeting drops of water in his canteen day by day began to run out. Finally, he stumbled upon an oasis where a small group of travelers had gathered. They welcomed him into their camp, fed him and gave him water. A group of bandits they were, making their living off waylaying passing tribes, they saw the young boy and decided to test him. One of their number was a young woman. She seemed different from the rest. She did not possess the spirit of haughtiness and wrath as the others, and her eyes concealed welling storms underneath. The boy and her became friends, although few words were exchanged, she reassured him with every day and the pains of the past began to subside.
One day, the leader of the bandits took the boy out and asked him to prove his loyalty by ransacking a nearby caravan. The boy refused, and when he did, the leader beat him and left him in the sands. The boy looked up, bruised and bloodied to see the woman cast him one last glance, an empty expression written across her face as she stepped into the desert with the rest of her company. The boy crawled with broken bones and bruised flesh across the desert until he couldn't move another muscle. Blackness clouded his vision as he faded from this world. Or so he thought. Somehow, he returned to life, still beaten and bruised but barely hanging on. And so he crawled. And crawled. Day by day he struggled, a thirst in his throat, pain coursing through every inch of his body, his mind plagued with pain and sorrow. Yet he crawled. Until.
One day, he was found again. A woman, shrouded in darkness with a porcelain mask, whispered kind words into his ear. The boy was frightened and wary. She summoned her companions to her side, a motley crew of folk, from whence and where, the boy did not know. They took him in once again, yet the boy was afraid. The past had taught him a lesson that he would not soon forget, the people of the desert were cruel. They would crush, abandon and destroy without a moments notice, without so much as the blink of an eye. His father had been right all along. Yet still, the soft songs of the mother played in mind and he could not bring himself to become as harsh as the land around him. He would still be the mercy so sorely lacking. He would be what he wanted the world to be, and not what it was. But what of those around him? Did they harbor the same goodwill? The boy knew not, and for that he was scared. And that fear kept him from being the peace he wanted to bring. But the world had taught him that there could be no peace. But the child was peace and could be no other way. The world was not meant for the boy, nor the boy for the world, yet there he was. What cruel irony.