An Allegory

Once upon a time there was a village. This village was a thriving, happy place, but one day a thief came into town. He was a very evil man, going about lying and deceiving the people. He was quite the bully as well-- threatening the people and forcing them to do things a certain way because, of course, he knew what was best for them. He would also murder lots of people, not just in the village, but also in the surrounding towns. He could get away with it because the people were so terrified of him. Besides outright robbing some the villagers at gunpoint, he also engaged in the most sneaky of schemes to steal the wealth of the people. He was so tricky that many of the villagers did not even know that they had been stolen from. There was no discrimination on his part as to his victims-- rich and poor, young and old-- he even stole from himself!

Despite the evil actions of this thief, there were many of the villagers who embraced him. The thief would do more with his loot than simply pad his pockets. He used it to amass power. He constructed many wonderful buildings for the people to use. He built parks for them to play in. He would bring the circus to town to entertain them. In the name of a good cause, he would offer some of his stolen goods to the people as bribes to trick them into doing what he wanted them to do. He especially had an affinity for offering money to those most affected by his thievery-- the poor. The people loved him and praised him for all the good he did. There was no end to his spending. Nobody had to really worry about their neighbors anymore. The thief would be right there, giving them a hand. Eventually, most of the villagers were so deceived by the thief that they became grateful for his actions and supported him as he pillaged the village, because they believed they were the ones doing good, through him.

As could be imagined, the villagers started to argue over the sharing of the stolen goods. They jockeyed for position to receive their fair share. Some of the villagers became discontent with the allocation of the loot to the poor. Reasoning that there were some who received more stolen goods than could possibly have been taken from them in the first place, and not understanding all the tricky schemes and sources of the thief, they commenced to deride the poor people. Many of those poor people reacted by trying to hide the fact that they were poor so that they would not be looked down upon, while others used their position to encourage the thief to give them even more.

There were a few of the villagers who recognized some of the actions of the thief for what they were. They went around the village trying to convince everyone that the thief should not be offering so much of his loot to everyone. The thief would not need to steal so much, if he didn't have so many uses for the money, they reasoned. They lashed out at those who shared in the loot in ways that they did not approve of.

One of the villagers came forward with a different outlook. He understood the true nature of the thief. His message was simple-- recognize the thief for who he was and bring him to justice! He did not think it was useful to argue about how the money was spent or who received how much. He was interested in stopping the thief altogether. He saw nothing wrong with each villager reclaiming whatever was possible for them from the thief while the thief was still engaged in his nefarious activities. For him, it was not a matter of dividing the spoils; it was the rightful return of property. The ridicule heaped upon the man for his ideas was intense. The villagers simply could not imagine life without the thief. Despite the fury of the villagers towards the man, he still held out hope that they would one day come to an understanding of their dire situation and join together to reject the thief once and for all.

How does this story end? Will the thief be brought to justice? Stay tuned...