The Blanket

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This piece is among my favorite fables. It originated during the middle ages in Germany and I believe aptly illustrates what happens when we lose perspective on personal relationships. It's especially well suited to business, where people are often tempted to put themselves and their own priorities first.

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There was once a man who lived on a small farm with his family and his wife's elderly mother. Although the old woman was clearly part of the family, age had taken its toll. Her mind was fading quickly and she became increasingly hard to handle.

Eventually the man could take no more. Calling his oldest son to him, he gave stern and clear direction:

For the good of the household, the boy was to take the old woman, together with a blanket he was handed, to the barn and there make her comfortable. She would not be living in the house with the rest of the family.

The boy left quietly on his errand and was gone some time. Eventually he returned to report that the deed was done. Much to the man's amazement, however, the boy had cut the blanket in half and was carrying the part with him.

"My son," said the angry man, "how could do such a thing? How could you leave your grandmother in the barn, to freeze with but half a blanket?"

"But father," replied the boy, "I'm saving the other half for you ..."