The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf!’
Once upon a time, there was a village in the mountains. Some of the villagers were farmers while others were shepherds. One morning during harvest, a shepherd boy ran from the pastures and cried “Wolf! A wolf has come to take my sheep!”
The farmers left their harvest, grabbed their weapons, and followed the boy to his pasture. But there was no sign of a wolf. So, the unhappy villagers went back to their farms.
That afternoon the shepherd boy again ran from the pastures. “Wolf! A wolf has come to take my sheep!” Once again, the farmers left their harvest to follow the boy out to the pastures. But once again there was no wolf. At
Then, in the evening, the boy ran to the fields a third time and yelled “Wolf! Please help! This time truly a wolf has come to take my sheep!”
And so, for a third time, the farmers left their harvest to follow the boy out to the pastures. And, like the previous times, there was no sign of a wolf. Then the farmers grew angry and wanted to know why the boy had raised a false alarm three times that day.
At this time, the other shepherds brought their flocks in from the fields and, seeing a gathering, they stopped. But when they heard the boy’s story and saw the farmers muttering, they grew angry at the farmers and asked “Why won’t you believe this boy? You never believe the shepherds!”
“Because three times the boy has cried ‘Wolf!’,” replied the farmers, “but when we came running there was no wolf.”
But the un-satisfied shepherds searched the land around the pastures and questioned other villages nearby. But they found no trace of wolves, and they found no dead sheep. No one had seen or heard any sign of wolves.
Then, suddenly, several other shepherds from the village stepped forward and said: “We saw the wolf, too! It attacked our sheep as well!”
But the farmers asked, “Why have you not said anything about this before now?”
“Because we knew you wouldn’t believe us,” they said. “You never believe the shepherds, and see, you don’t believe this boy now.”
The farmers were perplexed and said “But there was no wolf. The investigation proved that he was not telling the truth.”
Then the shepherds became very angry and hurled insults and accusations at the farmers. “Why do you hate shepherds?” they asked. “You want the wolves to eat the sheep so that you can raise prices on your crops!”
So, the farmers held a council. Some grumbled and said, “This is ridiculous!” But others were somber, saying “The shepherds are right. Do you not remember that our great-grandfathers mistreated the shepherds? We are privileged to live in safety while the shepherds have to deal with the wolves. Let us believe the shepherd boy now and make reparations. We are ashamed that you doubt him.”
But the grumbling farmers said, “But we came running all three times the boy cried ‘Wolf!’ and the investigation proved their were no wolves!”
But the somber farmers just shook their heads and said: “You just don’t understand. We are privileged farmers, we need to believe the shepherd boy.”
Then a third group, pious farmers, stood up and told everyone to be silent. “Brothers, why are we so divided against each other? Are we not all farmers? Everyone is just taking sides but both shepherds and farmers share the blame in this matter.”
Then the grumbling farmers responded: “How can both sides share blame when it is the shepherd boy who falsely cried ‘Wolf!’?
But the somber farmers responded and said, “You fear the shepherds because they are different than you.” And the pious farmers said, “Let us lay aside our doubts which are caused by fear, and our prejudice, and let us reconcile with the shepherds.”
Thus, there was peace between farmers and shepherds. The farmers paid 20% of their harvest yield from that year forward as reparations to the shepherds for the sheep lost to wolves over the years – even though no wolves had been spotted in many years.
The boy who cried ‘Wolf!’ became Mayor. At his inauguration, the somber and the pious farmers issued a formal apology on behalf of all farmers and denounced the grumbling farmers.
They say that in later years, the Mayor took the land held by the grumbling farmers and gave it to the shepherds for their flocks. When the grumbling farmers complained, the other villagers just shook their heads and said “Your hatred and fear of the shepherds caused division in our village. You do not deserve to own the land.”