The Tale of the Third Son
There was a father with three sons. He did his best to raise them with love and understanding and he knew that though each one was very different from the others, they were each special none-the-less. As each son turned 18, the father took him aside and spoke with him at length about making the most of his life and how to be a man who would prosper and go far in this world.
The years went by, and he watched as each son made very different choices. He loved his sons deeply, and wanted the most for them. He cried long into the night when he saw them going through hardships, and rejoiced with them in their triumphs.
The third son was now middle-aged, and the father noticed that he was not prospering like his brothers. The father believed that each of his sons was a hard worker, and yet the youngest never seemed to get anywhere. He had worked in the same menial job for many years without a promotion. His house was small, his clothes rarely new or fashionable.
The father was confused, for this third son of his was actually the smartest of all his sons. He was a deep thinker and rarely got in trouble as a child. The father grew more troubled with every injustice and hardship that he noticed. He thought long and hard about what might be going on with his third son, and decided on a plan to encourage him to be more like his brothers.
So one day, after much contemplation, his asked his third son to spend the day with him. They began the day by visiting the first and oldest brother. The first brother had his own factory that made medical supplies. They toured the factory with all of its amazing machinery and many workers. After the tour, the first brother spent some time visiting with them and telling them about how he started the factory and developed ways to make it prosper. He told about how his days went and the many important people he connected with to make things run smoothly.
As they left, the father felt happy, for he was certain that his third son had learned many good principles from the running of the factory and from older brother’s tales.
Their next stop was the second son’s farm. On the farm they say many beautiful fruit trees laden with fruit, and large bunkhouses for all the workers that were needed to help pick all the fruit. The second son showed them around, and as he did he told of the work he had done, planting the trees himself, nurturing them, working hard to make the farm productive. And the father felt proud of his second son and certain that his third son had learned some new insights into ways to prosper.
Before they could end their day, the father had one last destination in mind. He asked the third son to take him for a tour of his workplace. The place where he had worked at a menial job with no promotion for so many years. The third son heartily agreed, and soon was showing his father into the building. As the son showed him around, the father shook his head at the small space in which the son was forced to work, and he sighed to himself as he realized just how boring this job must be for a man as smart as his son. He looked around and thought of how many missed opportunities there had been.
But then, he stopped looking around in grief for his son, and forced himself to listen to the third son’s words. His son knew every co-worker, by name. He also knew each one as a friend, and was well respected by all of them. He had learned to greet people in their own language. He had spent many years making changes to improve order and safety in his department. He spoke of his job and his co-workers with joy.
And the father started to realize that perhaps his son wasn’t going through as many hardships as he thought. So he asked his son what he thought of the day they had just finished, and here was his response:
“Oh Father! What a hard life my brothers lead! We saw my first brother’s factory, and he looked so tired and worn out. He wasn’t friends with anyone he worked with, and nobody smiled when they saw him walk by! I feel so sorry for him, working in such a sad place. And then when we went to the farm, my second brother couldn’t speak the language of most of the people working in his fields. He has worked so hard, with barely a day off since he graduated, and still every time the weather changes, he must worry about his livelihood! I feel so sad for him! But what a great end to the day! I got to show you what a wonderful place I work in. I got to introduce you to my friends. I’ve told them so much about what a great father I have and how much you’ve taught me, and now finally I got to introduce you to them! Did you enjoy your day?”
And the father replied: “My son, I have learned a great lesson in perspective today, and I thank you for opening my eyes to what I’ve been missing for so long!”