The Fisherman

By Scott Lilly | May 21, 2014

Once there was an island in the ocean and on that island was a village.  The men of the village fished for their food and the women kept their families well.  That was the way of the village since the beginning of time.

One day a man in the village invented a new way to wiggle his worm so that he could catch more fish.  When he came home from the day’s work early with more fish than before, his wife and children enjoyed the extra time with him – and the plentiful food.

This man continued in prosperity coming home early with plenty of food.  He had enough extra time on his hands to do a few improvements to his hut and even took some fish to a few friends who had been ill from a nasty cold that was going around.

The next day when he came in early as usual with a few extra fish, the village chief greeted him at the dock and told him for the good of the village, the chief would take 10% of his fish so that anyone who felt ill could have food for their families.  Having a good heart, the man gladly gave 10% of his fish and thanked the chief for distributing his fish to his sick friends and a few more that started feeling ill.  The next day he just worked a full day again and brought in 10% more than he normally would and the chief took the fish to those that felt ill.

His family missed seeing him early and they no longer had as much extra food.  But they were still happy and his fish-catching success was celebrated in the village.  Life was good.

It wasn’t long before much of the village was feeling ill and the chief again met the fisherman at the dock after a long day catching fish.  “For the good of the village, I’m going to have to take 20% of your fish.”  Now this upset the man as this meant he would have to work longer days than anyone just to feed his family.  But he knew the village depended on him so he left to fish early and fished long after everyone else went home.  He was now feeding many families in addition to his own.

When winter came and the fishing day was short and cold, fishing was a hard job.  Many fishermen realized they had the option to not go fishing and the chief would bring their family enough fish to be well.  And that’s exactly what they did.  The chief again met the hard-working man at the dock and told him he would now take 30% of his fish.  The man could not believe it and protested.  The chief agreed to hold a village meeting to discuss the new demands of the fisherman.

Seated around the fire at night, the man told his fellow villagers that he could not give more of his fish and he would not work longer to catch more fish.  They scoffed at him telling him he was selfish, uncaring, and lacked compassion.  They demanded more of his fish and instructed the chief to take the fish for the good of the village.  No longer was the successful fisherman celebrated and honored.  He was the subject of scorn – the fisherman who did not want to share his many fish.

With his back aching one day after a long day of fishing, he met the chief at the dock once again and told the chief of an idea he had.  He would teach every able-bodied man in the village his worm-wiggling technique so that everyone could help him feed those that were getting the fish from the chief.  The chief called a meeting to discuss the offer.  To his surprise, nobody wanted to know this technique.  Those that were receiving fish from the chief had no interest in fishing.  Those that were still fishing when the weather was good had no interest in working enough that they too would have to give up their fish.

The fisherman with the worm-wiggling technique went to his grave having worked tirelessly to feed so many people.  Few villagers came to his funeral as they thought he was greedy for always complaining about giving up 30% of his fish.

The day after the man’s funeral the village was hungry.  Many families went with the chief to the dock to greet the fishermen coming in with just enough fish to feed their families.

How will this story end?