A little boy was walking down a path and he came across an old rattlesnake.
The snake asked, “Please little boy, can you take me to the top of the mountain? I hope to see the sunset one last time before I die.”
The little boy answered “No Mr. Rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you’ll bite me and I’ll die.”
The rattlesnake said, “No, I promise. I won’t bite you. Just please take me up to the mountain.”
The little boy thought about it and finally picked up that rattlesnake and took it close to his chest and carried it up to the top of the mountain.
They sat there and watched the sunset together. It was so beautiful. Then after sunset the rattlesnake turned to the little boy and asked, “Can I go home now? I am tired, and I am old.”
The little boy picked up the rattlesnake and again took it to his chest and held it tightly and safely. He came all the way down the mountain holding the snake carefully and took it to his home to give him some food and a place to sleep.
The next day the rattlesnake turned to the boy and asked, “Please little boy, will you take me back to my home now? It is time for me to leave this world, and I would like to be at my home now.”
The little boy felt he had been safe all this time and the snake had kept his word, so he would take it home as asked.
He carefully picked up the snake, took it close to his chest, and carried him back to the woods, to his home to die. Just before he laid the rattlesnake down, the rattlesnake turned and bit him in the chest.
The little boy cried out and threw the snake upon the ground. “Mr. Snake, why did you do that? Now I will surely die!”
The rattlesnake looked up at him, grinned and said:
“You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.
1 Some universal tales have variations shared worldwide. The following is a very old story told by Cherokee, Seneca, Hindu, and many other people all around the world. The lessons are the same in any language.
Written By David Blumenkrantz Ph.D. M.Ed.
An Old Story for Our Time: The Rattlesnake and A Little Boy1 was originally published @ Rope and has been syndicated with permission.