A parable for our times: the story of the youngest brother

Do you remember the fairy stories you heard when you were growing up?

They often began with a quest — to slay a dragon or to rescue a princess and there were always three brothers….

The eldest brother sets off confidently on the quest. On the way he meets an old man or an old woman, but he doesn’t stop to listen to their advice: he has more important things to do.

Well, the eldest brother failed in the quest, so then came the turn of the second brother. Once he saw that the first brother had failed, he was confident that he would succeed. But like the first brother he thought he knew better than the old folk and although he could see they were hungry, he didn’t offer to share his food…

When the second brother returned empty handed, it came to the turn of the youngest. But everyone laughed at him, for they thought him a fool. He was dressed in rags and set off with only a crust of bread but with his Mother’s blessing which meant more to him than the fine food his brothers dined on. On the way he stopped and spoke to the old folk and shared the little food he had for, though he may have been a fool, he had a good heart.

And here we are in 2020; living through one of the strangest times in history.

The eldest brother: he who was chosen by God, whether as King, Emperor or Tsar, has had his turn and has failed to create the just and harmonious world we all want, so we no longer turn to monarchs with the belief that they can help us.

Next came the turn of the second brother and we had the revolutionaries: Napoleon, Cromwell, Lenin. They thought they could do a better job and some of us believed them. But in the end we saw that they too had failed: what had started out with good intentions somehow ended with the guillotine and the gulags.

And now it is the turn of the younger brother and here is the twist in the story….

That younger brother is You and me: Maybe we thought we would never get a turn. After all, nobody believed in us so perhaps we didn’t really believe in ourselves. We were waiting for the adults to sort out the mess. But now we have realised that there are no other adults: we are the adults and our turn has finally come.

In what will now unfold we each have a unique role to play, a contribution that only we can make. Maybe the seed of what we bring is buried deep and has been hidden from us or long forgotten… but still it sparkles in the shadows, like buried treasure and something in us knows that we were made for these times and for the unfolding of this new world.