Once there was a Donkey who belonged to a man living next to a temple. Every year, the temple had a festival, where the statue of the local god was carried around the town square by a beautiful stallion. However, eventually the stallion became too sick and old to bear the weight of the idol, and the monks, not having enough money to purchase a new horse, asked their neighbor for the loan of his Donkey.
The Donkey had never paid attention to the festival, so had no idea what all the fuss was about when, laden with the stone god, he trotted out into the town square and found himself the center of attention. Everyone cheered and clapped, bowing and throwing gifts of flowers to the idol. The Donkey, thinking the people were cheering him, held his head up high and proudly carried the idol around the town square before returning to his stable.
Frowning at his humble surroundings, the Donkey became angry and said to the other animals: “Look at this dingy old stall! I am a revered and important person and deserve better than to be cooped up with you ordinary animals! And look at this filthy manger! Certainly, such a holy Donkey like me deserves better food than oats and hay!”
He went on for some time in this manner, until an old Crow spoke wisely: “You were carrying the image of a god, a symbol of a divinity: the people were cheering at the idea of the god, not at you, or even the idol itself. Just because you carried a statue on your back does not make you any more holy than you were yesterday. You are a Donkey, no more, no less; now stop putting on airs and be content.”
There are many who think that, because they somehow represent their idea of god, that they are holy themselves, and better than “ordinary” people, but nothing could be further from the truth. The same is true for those who think that wealth or status entitles them to better treatment.
Healthy skepticism shows us that it is the idea of something higher than us which brings people of faith together, that we are all entitled to fair treatment, and most importantly, that there is a big difference between a divinity and the one carrying the idol on their back.
What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Spike’s dystopian novel? Do you have a story about misplaced reverence that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!