Westerners, especially in America, tend to think that everyone else in the world wants to be like them. And, this is not just for the poorer parts of Africa, South America, and SE Asia. I’ve heard plenty of people say it about modernized Europe and Asia as well. Just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. For little things, I still catch myself saying things like, psh, but it’s obviously better “like this.” It’s how we grew up; America’s ego is ingrained into all of us. But it doesn’t have to continue. This is why I think traveling is so critical. There simply isn’t another way to rid yourself of ignorance unless it hits you in the face.
My absolute favorite parable helps drive this home. I hope you enjoy the read.
A boat is docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
“Not very long.” they answered in unison.
“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”
The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”
The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”
“And after that?”
“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City , Los Angeles , or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”
“How long would that take?”
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.
“And after that?”
“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”
“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?”
Do you love this story as much as I do? Let me know in the comments below!