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Share the fire

By Stuart Kerner

Five strangers each enrolled on an outward-bound course to be held in the middle of winter on a wild and windswept moor. Each one hoped that they would be made stronger and fitter by facing the elements, but each resented the company of their five fellow travellers for reasons of their own.

Unfortunately these five got lost in the fog, in the middle of the moor, with few provisions and no way to summon help. Their only hope was to see out the night.

Each traveller possessed a stick of wood in their back pack: insufficient to make a life-saving fire on its own, but with about four others, enough to create a large, roaring blaze.

As the dark and cold night went on, and the fire they had started earlier was badly in need of logs, each person became conscious of their life-saving branch, but each had second thoughts about using it.

The first, a woman, of noble birth, held hers back: why should she share it with the likes of this riff-raff?

The next person couldn’t bring himself to give his stick of birch to the fire; after all, he knew that one of the group belonged to a different religion from him, and he wasn’t about to do anything to help his sworn enemy.

The third sat in tattered clothes. She tugged her battered coat around her shoulders: why should her log be put to use to warm the idle rich?

The fourth, a rich man, just sat back and thought of the wealth he had in store at home, and how to keep what he had earned from the lazy, spendthrift poor: that log was his and that was how it was going to stay.

And the last person in this desperate group was someone who would do nothing unless it was for his own gain, giving only to those who gave something back was how he played the game.  His stick remained firmly in his rucksack.

The next morning the local rangers of the moor discovered this dreadful group – the logs held tight in their lifeless, frozen hands. Of course, unbeknown to their would-be rescuers, they didn’t die from the cold without; they died from the cold within.

 

Remember, we human beings need to share our inner fire with our fellows or else we will all die of frozen hearts.


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