The Richest Man in Babylon is a classic tale of parables written by George S. Clayson and published in 1926. Typically, this book is a resource for…
The Richest Man in Babylon is a classic tale of parables written by George S. Clayson and published in 1926. Typically, this book is a resource for those people who are interested in improving their financial literacy and making wise financial decisions and investments. This work is timeless and adeptly describes human nature, assumptions, and follies. Given its relevance at capturing and molding the human spirit, one can argue that its lessons go beyond that of finances and span the realm of personal development. In today’s article, we are going to look at how The Richest Man in Babylon, specifically the tale of “The Gold Lender of Babylon”teaches us about the true meaning of friendship.
In “The Gold Lender of Babylon,” a tale is narrated about a farmer of Nineveh who could understand his animals. Every night, the farmer would listen in on his livestock. One night, he overheard a conversation between his donkey and his ox, and this led him to try to teach them a lesson. In this conversation, the ox complained to donkey that he always had to work hard night and day whilst the donkey got to be lazy and have lots of leisure time. When the ox compared his own work with the donkey’s, he found that the donkey only had to carry the farmer to and fro and that he got to rest and eat of the land when the farmer did not need him. This was in stark contrast to the ox whose work was demanding irrespective of the weather, leading him to tired legs and a chafed neck.
The donkey wanted to be a good friend and sympathised with the ox’s plight, so he gave the ox an idea. He told the ox that he could pretend to be sick when he was called to go to work. Unbeknownst to the ox and the donkey, the farmer overheard all of this. The next day, the ox did as the donkey directed him and feigned illness. The farmer said that the plowing still had to be done even if the ox were sick, so he called upon the donkey to do the ox’s plowing. All the while the donkey did the ox’s work; his heart was as bitter and resentful as his body was tired. When he met up with the ox later that day, the ox thanked him for being a great friend. The donkey was not so eager to accept this accolade. In fact, he told the ox that he’d been simple-hearted and foolish because like many a fool, he’d started to help a friend and ended up doing his friend’s task for him. This story then closed with a moral, “If you desire to help thy friend, do so in a way that will not bring thy friend’s burdens upon thyself” (Clayson, 42).
How many times in your life, have you found yourself in a situation like the donkey’s? You want to be a good friend, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son so you come to the rescue by ‘helping…’ only in the process of helping, you end up harming and disadvantaging yourself and enabling the other person? In this tale, Clayson, through his parables and characters, is urging us to think before rushing to someone’s aid. How can I really help this person in a way that is not equally damaging to me? Click here to learn more questions that may be useful to ask yourself as you attempt to help empower a loved one or friend as opposed to enabling.
Tasha Richardson, blogger for a beautiful patience, guest posts here with some pearls of wisdom on making change. Tasha was a Public Ally for the National Runaway Safeline and dreams of changing the world one thought and positive interaction at a time. You can read more of her work on a beautiful patience and on NRS’ blog.