A farmer in ancient China had a neighbour who was a hunter, and who owned ferocious and poorly trained hunting dogs.
They jumped over the fence frequently and chased the farmer’s lambs. The farmer asked his neighbour to keep his dogs in check, but this fell on deaf ears.
One day the dogs again jumped the fence, attacked and severely injured several of the lambs.
The farmer had enough of his neighbour’s negligence. He went to town to consult a judge who listened carefully to the story and said: “I could punish the hunter and instruct him to keep his dogs chained or lock them up. But you would lose a friend and gain an enemy. Which would you rather have, friend or foe for a neighbour?”
The farmer replied that he preferred a friend. “Alright, I will offer you a solution that keeps your lambs safe, and which will keep your neighbour as a friend.”
Having heard the judge’s solution, the farmer agreed. Once at home, the farmer immediately put the judge’s suggestions to the test.
He took three of his best lambs and presented them to his neighbour’s three small sons, who were overjoyed to receive such lovely pets and began to play with them.
To protect his sons’ newly acquired playthings, the hunter built a strong kennel for his dogs. Since then, the dogs never again bothered the farmer’s lambs.
Out of gratitude for the farmer’s generosity toward his sons, the hunter often shared the game he had hunted with the farmer.
The farmer reciprocated by sending the hunter, lamb meat and cheese he had made. Within a short time, the neighbours became good friends.
A saying in old China went something like this, “One can win over and influence people the best with gestures of kindness and compassion.”
There is another similar Western saying: “One catches more flies with honey than with vinegar.” And, “Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.”
Kindness and compassion are signs of faith. Let us make it a part of us to be polite when we speak and not make rude remarks and bring people down with our words at every opportunity we get, especially with our families, friends and colleagues.