Parable of the Enemies

Two men were summoned before God. With eyes downcast they were told the following: "You each have an enemy who hates you and wishes to destroy you. I am giving a vial to each of you. I will not disclose the contents of these vials at this time but suffice it to say that the liquid is both precious and potent. It will affect your enemy according to your hearts’ desires. These vials are not yours to keep. I will ask for their return and an accounting of their use."

Many years passed. The men were again summoned before God. They were asked to account for the precious liquid used. The first man stepped forward grim and proud.

His account is as follows: "I used the liquid in my vial to poison the wells and fields of my enemy. I used it to sicken and starve his children and family. It was used to bring untold hardship and suffering to him. I am pleased to say that although he loathes me and wishes to destroy me, he is far too weak and preoccupied with suffering to do so."

The second man stepped forward and smiled. He responded, "I used the liquid in the vial to sweeten the water in my enemy’s wells. I used it to make his fields exceedingly fertile and bountiful. It was used to bring good health and happiness to his children and loved ones. He is comfortable and contented and now I believe he considers me his friend."

God spoke, "You both have used the liquid in your vials to great effect. It is time to reveal the contents of the vials. As you were told the liquid is both precious and potent. The liquid in the vials contains the lifeblood and sweat of your children, family, friends, and neighbors; extracts from the grains of your fields and fruits of your orchards; and power from your factories and industry. As you have returned the vials to me, I shall replenish their contents and give them to your enemies tomorrow. Now leave."

As they left one man’s heart was filled with fear and trembling for himself and his family. The other left contented and with a smile on his face.