Men and their houses – A parable

Once there was a village which had four kinds of houses – green, blue, orange and white. It was a peaceful village where all the house owners loved each other and treated each other as brothers. They would share duties and each would become headman of the village through mutual consensus and in turns. One day, there was an argument between the owners of the green and orange houses.

The owner of a green house wanted to become the headman of the village, but the owner of the orange house thought that since it was his turn to be the headman, the owner of the green house was being unreasonable. A meeting was called and all the house owners assembled to discuss the issue. After a lot of debate the village elders took a vote and decided against the green house owner.

At this point, instead of conceding to the decision of the people and accepting his brothers wishes, the green house owners became angry and decided that they didn’t want to live in the village anymore. However, since everyone collectively owned all the land, it was going to be difficult to divide it up. Everyone tried convincing the green and orange house owners to make up and bury the feud but they wouldn’t have it.

The rivalry became so intense that no one felt like talking to each other. Eventually a time came where the elders decided that it was best to divide the village into two halves and the owners of the green houses could have their own village and be its headman. This caused a lot of heartache as everyone had to move around so that the division could take place. Since the blue houses were closest to the green ones, and they wanted to be on the side with orange houses, they had to abandon their ancestral homes. They lost most of their belongings and some of the kids were even lost in the confusion and commotion of division of properties. Eventually most of green house owners from all over the village decided to move the green village as they felt more comfortable there.


For a while everything was calm, in the two villages and people returned to their daily lives. However, the owner of a blue house kept a grudge that he was the one who bore the brunt of the fight. He thought that he deserved a better deal for himself, not realizing that he could have stepped in and resolved the debate between his brothers in the first place. He started thinking that if the owners of the green houses could have their own village, why can’t he have the same. He has done so much for the well-being of the village and should also be a headman and have his own rules, govern his own people. He started arguing with the owner of the orange house on this point and they both started losing each others trust.

Brothers and friends for ages, became enemies over night and started back biting, spreading rumors. Meanwhile, in the green village, the owners of the green houses had a new problem. Each wanted that all the houses in their village be painted to a hue of green that matched their own house. Since there are lots of shades of green, this quickly became a matter of contention and all of them started arguing with each other that their shade of green was better than the others.

Overtime, the rivalry between the owners of the blue and orange house owners became unbearable. Their families tried convincing them that it was futile, that they could all live amicably in the same village. They tried reminding them of the pain and trouble everyone went through when the owners of the green houses moved away. One day, the owner of the orange house went to the blue house and started taunting him. The blue house owner didn’t realize that his brother was in a drunken state, he was mad and didn’t know what he was doing. They had a huge brawl in the courtyard and the process, the little children in the blue house got gravely injured. While the fight was stopped, everyone was shell-shocked at what had happened and didn’t know what to do. Some of the members of the blue household got disgusted by the whole situation and decided to move away. However, the women of the blue house realized the folly in the whole drama and convinced the head of the house to back down.

There was another meeting of the village elders where the owners of the blue houses put forth their demands for the division of the village. Having gone through this process once, the elders held their ground and refused the request and asked everyone to resolve their disputes in a democratic fashion. Some of the blue house owners didn’t like the verdict and decided that they will continue the fight another day and from another place.

Meanwhile, the people of the village, weary of all the fighting, started to come back to their daily lives and care for their children. They saw that the people in the green village were still arguing over the shades of the green to be used to color their houses. The wise amongst them thought it was best to forgive everyone and move on with their lives, for the betterment of the village and its future generations. Still once in a while some of the young children in the blue houses remember the wrongs that were done in the past. They dream of their own village where every house will be blue, not realizing the pain the trouble it would cause to everyone if such a dream were to come true.

The elders listen patiently and try to remind everyone of a past where the whole village, the green houses, blue houses, orange houses and white houses lived together in peace and harmony. They try to show them a future where such a village is still possible, where brothers live as brothers and no one worries about the color of their house. They wait patiently for such a time to come again.


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