Aesop’s Fables were part of my childhood. To this day I remember my mom and grandmother reading them to me.
In the fable of the North Wind and Sun, as I remember it, the north wind and the sun get into an argument over which one of them is the strongest. In the midst of their debate, a person traveling strolls by wrapped in a cloak. In response, the sun and the wind agree that whoever can strip the traveler of his cloak must be the more powerful of the two.
The wind went first by blowing a hard cold fierce wind on the traveler. The wind howled and howled and the stronger the blast, the tighter and tighter the traveler clung to his cloak. No matter how hard the wind tried, the wind could not strip the traveler of his cloak.
Then it was the sun’s turn. He shined warm gentle rays down upon the traveler. The traveler was engulfed in a pleasant feeling and soon he loosened the cloak he was wearing. Over time he became so comfortably warm that he removed the cloak completely. Hence, the sun won the debate with the wind.
One moral of the story is that gentleness and kindness are often far more powerful than force. This may be why the following quote is attributed to Aesop. “No act of kindness is ever wasted.”
This fable came to mind the other day due to a simple act of kindness by a stranger toward me. I was busy and had to run errands when I noticed my gas gauge was nearing below empty. Despite my pressured schedule, I pulled into a station and filled my car up, after which, I went inside to buy a cold iced tea. After waiting for a few moments in line, I approached the woman at the register. She smiled and said, “no charge today for you.”
I replied, “Really?” She said, “Yes.” After thanking her and complimenting her for her kindness, I got into my car and went about my day. Her simple kindness remained with me. Indeed, Aesop was right, “no act of kindness is ever wasted.”
I know this may seem to be a platitude or overly sentimental, but I believe there is great wisdom in Aesop’s fable of the North Wind and Sun, as many have said over the years. I have a strong suspicion that if more and more of us engaged in intentional kindness, much would change in our lives and in our nation. We certainly have plenty of evidence of what things are like when we are anything but kind to one another.
Perhaps this is why Paul wrote in his letter to the people of Ephesus, “Be kind to each other.” Simple, of course. Challenging at times, certainly.
The Rev. Dr. Robert de Wetter