A Parable

One night, there was a large house that was slowly burning. A firefighter pushed his way through the flames and to the back of the house where there were many rooms that were filled with smoke and people.

He carefully opened the door to the first room he came to. Inside was a man, frantically working in spite of the smoke that stung his eyes and made him cough.

“Hurry!” said the firefighter, “I’m here to help you. Let’s get out of here!”

“Hah!” laughed the man, “to where?”

“Outside,” pleaded the firefighter

The man hardly looked up from his work. “When you have studied as much as I have, son, you will realize that there is no outside. This house is all we’ve got, and it’s our duty to make it better as much as we can during our lives. Now, if you’ll abandon your fantasies, you can help me set up this system of fans that will clear the smoke from this room and we’ll soon be able to approach the situation calmly and reasonably.”

“Now, open that window for me,” continued the man. The firefighter did as he was told and left, hoping the man would realize his situation and scramble to safety. The man, however, was too busy mounting a large fan in the opening.

Next the firefighter came to a room in which a woman crouched on the floor, breathing through a wet handkerchief to fight the smoke. He repeated his plea.

“No, it’s ok,” came the reply, “see if I keep my rag in place I can breathe just fine. Also, I can prostrate myself on the floor and stay down below the smoke.”

“But I can take you outside.”

“Oh, outside! I’ve heard wonderful things about it. Someday I’ll get out there, once I’ve figured out how to move through this smoke and not just lie down. It’s all about having the right attitude, don’t you know, and having faith and staying positive.”

The firefighter left and came to another room. In this room, he found another woman and, strangely enough, another firefighter. The other firefighter and the woman were engaged in some sort of argument. and they both turned as the stranger entered the room.

“Oh thank goodness you’re here!” said the other firefighter, “look I’ve told her the house is on fire and all that and she wants to get out, but she’s not taking the situation seriously!”

“What’s the problem?”

“Well, she wants to go outside wearing that!

Whereupon the first firefighter forcibly seized the second, stripped him naked of his suit and equipment; and threw him bodily out of the window. He landed in the middle of a crowd of people who, for some strange reason, thought it necessary to gather and hold signs loudly proclaiming that the house was on fire and it was probably somebody’s fault.

The firefighter then put the large coat, helmet, mask, and oxygen tank on the woman and carried her to safety.


About Derrick

Derrick lives and works in South Carolina where he teaches English at a technical college and raises his two small children with his wife, Danielle.
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