The Thinking Poet




The Benefactor

There was once a rich young man who loved the world and its people. He would stand at street-corners offering pound-notes, but very few would take them. Most gave him a wide berth, suspicious as they were of strangers. Soon he attracted the attention of the authorities. He was run-in and asked to explain himself. How had he come by the money? What were his motives? The bank-notes were examined for evidence of forgery.

 Later he was released. They found no evidence of guilt. "Clearly he is mad", scoffed the law.

 The young man ceased his benevolence at street-corners. "I know what I shall do", he said to himself. "I shall send money-gifts to the needy". This he did, anonymously, on a grand scale. He had been careful to select those in want, and now he waited hopefully to see the changes that ensued. To his great sadness they all without exception squandered the money in extravagance and dissipation.

 Older now, the rich man conceived a new plan. "I will endow schools and train teachers so that the young at least may learn to love the world as I do".

 For a while the enterprise succeeded. True, some parents shunned the schools and sent their children elsewhere; but those who attended grew in love and understanding. The success of the schools spread with passing years, but sadly as it did so a gradual degeneration and decline took place. The staff became more conscious of their affluence and status than of their mission and dedication.

 The rich man watched in sadness, unable to stop the downward slide which now had gathered a momentum of its own. Teachers and students alike had lost sight of love.

Inevitably it was only a matter of time before the whole land was in trouble. Love only of riches and success for its own sake led the people to penury as must happen when the grand vision is fled.

 The rich man was old now. He surveyed the ravished land and the people he loved in their plight, and was filled with compassion. Slowly a final plan took shape. "They are all starving and close to death. I will invite them to work my land with me. Money now for them has lost its meaning. They will learn that the crops they sow today are the food they eat tomorrow. I can sustain them with the grain in my barns until their first harvest".

 So the people came as he expected, driven by hunger. And as they worked with their benefactor, who magically seemed always to be in their midst, they gradually learned his ways, caught the excitement of the new way of life, and felt the warmth of love which comes from companionship in a common cause.

 They also learnt that wisdom is to work with the seasons in the perpetual "now" of today, and that joy is in the world and the work itself. In this they continually gave praise.

 The subsistence-farming on these broad, fertile plains continues to this day, and shows no sign of ever ceasing.Strangely the rich man remains impervious to age; in fact one might say he is ageless. The workers love him dearly, for he works with them and is their inspiration. In harmony with each other they sing at their tasks and are never hungry; neither do they seem to age.

 It need hardly be added that they never think of money.

Ron Cretchley  25.1.94