Friday Fable: Aesop’s “THE TRAVELERS AND THE PURSE”*

Posted by jlubans on July 11, 2014

Two men were traveling in company along the road when one of them picked up a well-filled purse.
‘How lucky I am!’ he said. ‘I have found a purse. Judging by its weight it must be full of gold.’
‘Do not say 'I have found a purse,'’ said his companion. ‘Say rather 'we have found a purse' and 'how lucky we are.' Travelers ought to share alike the fortunes or misfortunes of the road.’
‘No, no,’ replied the other angrily. ‘I found it and I am going to keep it.’
Just then they heard a shout of ‘Stop, thief!’ and looking around, saw a mob of people armed with clubs coming down the road.
The man who had found the purse fell into a panic.
‘We are lost if they find the purse on us,’ he cried.
‘No, no,’ replied the other, ‘You would not say 'we' before, so now stick to your 'I'. Say 'I am lost.'"

“We cannot expect any one to share our misfortunes unless we are willing to share our good fortune also.”

OTJ (on the job), the unboss, never claims sole credit for organizational accomplishment nor blames others when things go bad. The unboss understands he is as much responsible for an organization’s failure as he is responsible for its success. As a result, the salary multiple for the unboss is not 200 times the lowest paid worker; it’s a much smaller multiple, permitting a greater share for everyone in the organization.
It should be noted that a prime factor in humankind’s evolutionary survival is our widely distributed desire to cooperate and to be considerate of others. Aesop’s selfish traveler comes up short on the cooperation gene.

*Source: Aesop for Children (translator not identified). Illustrations by Milo Winter (1886-1956). Chicago: 
Rand McNally & Company, 1919. Available online at Project Gutenberg.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

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