The Horse, as the Aesop fable goes, had a quarrel with the Stag, but lacked the strength to battle his enemy on his own, so he asked the Hunter for help. The Hunter agreed to help, but only if the Horse would agree to carry him on his back and wear a bit in his mouth, so the Hunter could guide him. Saddled and bridled, the Horse carried the Hunter into battle against the Stag, and together the two defeated the enemy easily. But when the Horse asked the Hunter to take the bridle, bit and saddle off him, the Hunter refused, saying he liked the arrangement so much that he was going to keep the Horse as he was.

The moral, of course, is clear: if you allow yourself to be used for your own purposes, others will also use you for theirs. A predator will often use your goals against you: do you want to learn the secrets of the universe? save the world? become rich? A cult recruiter or predatory fraudster will promise you everything you ever wanted, and more – anything to get you to sign on the dotted line. Human traffickers use their victims’ desire for a better life to lure them into the trap of slavery or prostitution. An abusive romantic partner will promise you the love you always wanted – at the price of your dignity. Only after you have lost your independence will you realize, like the Horse in the story, that there is no chance of getting what you wanted out of the deal.

This ancient fable from Aesop carries into our modern world easily: from people who find themselves selling overpriced soaps and health supplements to friends in hopes of becoming wealthy, to those who proselytize door to door to gain a place in Paradise – those who agree to become the tools of another rarely achieve their own goals. We must learn to practice healthy skepticism and carefully examine the claims of anyone who offers to make our wishes come true – or we will end up saddled, bridled and ridden for someone else’s purposes, just like the hapless Horse.

Editor's Note: While we at OMF value all free expression of opinion, the views expressed by our contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OMF, its board members, or trustees.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Spike’s dystopian novelDo you have a story about being exploited by a predator that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!