【明報專訊】An old man and his son were taking their donkey to market, hoping to sell it for a good price. To make sure the animal did not get too tired and arrived in good condition, they decided not to ride it.
As they were walking along the road, some travellers passed by and one said, ''Look at those two! Leading a donkey and not riding it. That makes three donkeys!''
They all laughed and walked on before the old man could explain. He felt quite humiliated (受屈辱) and told his son to get on the donkey. After a while, they met a group of farmers coming back from the fields. Seeing the trio, they shook their heads and muttered, ''What is the world coming to? Is there no respect for the aged?''
Hearing this, the old man couldn't help but agree and told his son to change places with him. On they went until they met some women in a cart, back from market with their shopping.
''Poor boy,'' they said sympathetically, ''trudging along the dusty road.'' And glared at the old man.
The father didn't want his son to suffer, so they both got on the donkey. Naturally, the poor beast began to plod on more and more slowly and this drew the attention of some youngsters playing by the road.
''How cruel!'' said one of them, pointing to the donkey. ''That animal is on its last legs (奄奄一息), being forced to carry such a load.''
The old man and his son scrambled off and inspected their donkey — it did appear to be the worse for wear (筋疲力盡的) and was panting a bit.
''This won't do,'' thought the old man and wondered how he could get the animal to market without enduring any further criticism. He and his son got some rope and a stout pole, tied up the donkey's front and back legs, heaved (舉起) it onto the pole and proceeded to carry it to market. The animal did not seem to mind this novel mode of transport as it hung upside down, swinging gently. As they neared their destination, they met crowds of shoppers and many laughed and pointed at this odd sight. The two quickened their pace, wanting to get away from these annoying people. As they were crossing a bridge, the old man slipped and the donkey tumbled off and fell into the river. As the hapless (不幸的) creature's legs were bound, it could not swim and so it drowned.
Someone who tries to please everyone, ends up pleasing no one.
This well-known fable is found in many cultures — Arab, Turkish, Greek, Spanish, French. It has been around for many centuries and is a favourite with writers and readers. Do you think the moral of this old tale is especially relevant to this modern age of social media?