You Can't Please Everyone

Words - 394 Reading Level - 3.6

There is an often quoted proverb which states that you can please some of the people, some of the time, but you can't please all of the people, all of the time.

This insight is by no means a new one. Over 2500 years ago, the famous Greek slave Aesop illustrated this point in his fable "The Miller, the Son, and the Donkey."

The story is about a miller and his son who were driving their donkey to market. They had not gone far when some girls saw them and broke out laughing. "Look!" they cried. "Look at those fools! How silly they are to be trudging along on foot when the donkey might be carrying one of them on his back."

This seemed to make sense, so the father lifted his son onto the donkey and walked along contentedly by his side. They trod on for a while until they met an old man who spoke to the son scornfully. "You should be ashamed of yourself, you lazy rascal. What do you mean by riding when your poor old father has to walk? It shows that no one respects age anymore. The least you can do is get down and let your father rest his old bones." Red faced with shame, the son got down and made his father get onto the donkey's back.

They had gone only a little further when they met a group of young fellows who mocked them. "What a cruel old man!" jeered one of the fellows. "There he sits, selfish and comfortable, while the poor boy has to stumble along the dusty road to keep up with him."

So the father lifted his son up, and the two of them rode along. However, before they reached the market, a townsman stopped them. "Have you no feeling for dumb creatures?" he shouted. "The way you load that little animal is a crime. You two men are better able to carry the poor little beast than he you!"

Wanting to do the right thing, the miller and his son got off the donkey, tied his legs together, slung him on a pole, and carried him on their shoulders. When people saw this spectacle, they laughed so loudly that the donkey was frightened. The animal kicked through the cords that bound him, fell off the pole into the river and drowned.

The moral of this story is, "He who tries to please everybody pleases nobody."

© 2003