A parable

The people came to a wise man and asked, “Tell us, who is good?”

The wise man said:

There were three men, each of whom was building a fire.

The first man has enough wood to build his fire, plus enough to keep it going until bedtime. His fire starts slowly, but soon it is crackling merrily. He is sure to be warm.

Sometimes the flame is high and hot; other times it flickers and is warm. The man makes adjustments as needed, moving logs and adding more to keep the fire going.

He knows that eventually it will be bedtime — should he add an other log to keep it warm, or should he let it die down? He knows there is an end to the fire and to the evening.

The second man has a very large woodpile, enough for months of fires. He uses lighter fluid to start his fire — his father gave him that — so his fire starts explosively, high and hot, and he expects it to stay that way.

He adds logs to the fire constantly, piling on even when the logs beneath have barely started to burn. He will always have more logs.

The third man, alas, has only two or three logs and not very much to start his fire with —some twigs, perhaps some cardboard. His fire starts slowly, oh so slowly, and it never becomes what you would call high or hot. In any case, it will not burn for very long.

The wise man turned to the people and asked — “Which of these men is good?”

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