Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Free Enterprise Parable And A Historical Struggle

A parable is a story, or poem, which is used to illustrate a moral or spiritual point, and reveal a hidden meaning.  It comes from the Latin word, parabola, which means comparison, discourse, or placing side-by-side.

When parables are employed, different people understand them on different levels and arrive at different interpretations.  One reason for this is background, but another is feeling.  Sometimes we simply feel the spirit of something and it touches us.

This is the MacGregor escutcheon, or coat of arms.  It features a tree and a crowned sword.

The story is told that in the 12th century the Scottish king was attacked by a wild boar during a hunting trip.  Sir Malcolm MacGregor asked permission to protect the king and was given permission with the statement, "Een do and spair nocht."  This would translate something like - do, and spare nothing.  Sir Malcolm then took an oak sapling and dispatched the boar.  This phrase became the MacGregor motto until the 18th century.

The tree is a symbol used in many eras and cultures.  It can symbolize food, purity, spiritual strength, spiritual struggle, strength itself, life, growth - and on and on.

One historical struggle has been between free enterprise and gubments!  John Kenneth Galbraith, not known as a political conservative, once said, "The great dialectic in our time is not, as anciently and by some still supposed, between capital and labor; it is between economic enterprise and the state."

And so it is. 

Consider this parable.  And as you do, consider this great and historical dialectic (argument) between free enterprise and the state.  And in particular between free enterprise and the imposition of socialism.



There once were two trees that lived side by side.

The one had a very comfortable life.  It lived in a greenhouse.  It was very well cared for by an elderly gardener.  The gardener knew just what to do to help the tree to grow and develop.  It was given plenty of water that included lots of nutrition.  It never wanted for water.  The temperatures in the greenhouse were controlled.  Windows were opened when it got too hot.  Heat was provided when it got too cold.  Shades were drawn when the sun grew too uncomfortable.  Its limbs were regularly pruned and it was beautiful.  It did not have to struggle for anything!  It lived in a pot and did not have to send down deep roots.  It never experienced strong winds so its limbs were weak.  Its bark was thin because it had plenty of water, had no enemies and was never too hot or cold.  The elderly gardener loved the tree.

The other tree's life was very hard.  It had to care for itself as there was no gardener to care for it.  It had to send down long roots to search for minerals and water.  That was sometimes hard to come by.  It experienced the very cold of winter and the very hot of summer.  Its limbs were never pruned and it had a somewhat disheveled appearance.  It developed bark that was necessarily thick and hard, needed to battle disease, insects and the elements.  All in all, it had learned to cope with all of that.  And it took care of itself, as best it could.  The tree was happy.

The two trees were close enough that when the windows were opened they could talk.  The tree in the greenhouse would often mock the other.  It would brag about its comfortable life and living conditions.

"Look at me!  My life is very easy.  I am well cared for.  I want for nothing.  My needs are all provided.  The gardener loves me.  I am happy!

And you - look at you!  I watch you struggle and strain for water.  I watch you fight against the heat and cold and strong winds.  You are besieged by insects and animals and birds.  You are never trimmed and some of your branches go this way and that way.  You never get a rest.  You should be in here where all is well!"

The other would answer.  "Yes, it is hard here.  Sometimes I envy you.  But it is not all so bad.  I have strong roots and a good foundation.  I send my limbs this way and that to get more light, and to protect against the strong winds.  True, my life is more difficult, but I am happy.  I am able to provide for myself."

Things went on like this for some time.  The one tree derided and scoffed and the other patiently went about insuring its survival.

Then, one day, the elderly gardener died.

Jay wrote this original parable, and published it here on his free enterprise blog.  One of Jay's genealogical lines is the MacGregor Clan.

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