The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Do you guys remember the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

It was a story about a shepherd boy. He was feeling bored watching the village sheep and to entertain himself, he cried, “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the field!” The villagers came and they were angry when they saw that there was no wolf. The shepherd boy apparently found the angry faces amusing and did it again. The villagers still came to save him and got tricked again. The boy cackled in delight. Later, he saw a real wolf and he cried as loudly as he could, but nobody came to help him. The story ended tragically; the wolf ate the boy and the sheep. That is the story about the boy who cried wolf.

When I was a kid, I believed that the moral value of the story was not to lie. Be honest, always. People will help you if you are honest.

That is super naive, I know, but that’s not my point. What do you think is the moral value of the story?

Right now when I am already a young adult (I am either a kid or a young adult, depends on the situation and which one benefits me most), I find that the story doesn’t really talk much about honesty. Not at all, even. I noticed how the shepherd boy very carelessly cried, “Wolf! Wolf!”. Remember why he did that? He was bored. He needed entertainment. He knew people would rush to the hill, thinking someone was in trouble and they had to save him. He was aware of that possibility when he gave everyone a false alarm. He had wanted people to come, panicking, so he could laugh at them for getting so worked up over nothing. That was the entertainment he sought for.

There is also something about how he still could get away with it once again, tricking the villagers for the second time. I like to think that the villagers were not stupid. They knew the boy was probably giving them another false alarm, but they might have believed that the first one was a childish mistake. That kid didn’t know what his cry could cause, the villagers might have thought. That was why they still came up the hill and got tricked twice. That was when they realized that the kid knew exactly what he was doing, and he intentionally tricked them because he found it amusing and entertaining.

But did he really know what he was doing, though?

I don’t think so. He ended up being the wolf’s dinner by the end of the story and I bet he did not see that coming. That kind of escalated quickly, by the way. A plain boring afternoon, with a bit spark of laughter here and there from laughing at the villagers… and next thing you knew the wolf decided that you were his dinner. Without your consent, on top of that. But anyway. Did the shepherd boy really know what he was doing?

No. Knowing what you are doing means you have a strong reason behind your actions. You understand what and who are involved. What they will result in for yourself and the parties involved. Knowing what you are doing means you have thought about all the possible scenarios that may happen from your actions. Knowing what you are doing means being aware of the consequences your actions might lead to.

One word: consequences.

The shepherd boy was obviously unaware of the consequences of giving false alarms.

It is interesting how some elements of the story are still true until today. A lot of people resemble the shepherd boy, throwing big strong words here and there nonchalantly. It was a false alarm about a wolf in the story, but nowadays the matter has been getting more and more serious. Discrimination. Racism. Sexism. Blasphemy. Violation of free speech. Violation of human rights in general. I have witnessed so many people, thanks to the spreading of social media, use these strong words very lightly as a way to react to news or social events. This is immensely alarming (no pun intended). There are some possible reasons why such phenomenon is happening in our society.

One, misconception. For someone to ever so easily flaunt serious terms even in the least significant social occasion, there is a probability that they just don’t understand what the terms mean. The perfect example is the violation of free speech. Rights of free speech allow you to voice your opinion. You are allowed to be opinionated and to criticize the things you find matter. That is correct. If you are using your right of free speech to criticize something and someone else contrasts your arguments, objects your critics, or disagrees with your opinion, does it mean they violate your human rights? No. Free speech doesn’t bind people to agree with you. It simply allows you to voice your thoughts. You are allowed to say what you want to say, but people are also allowed to react based on how your sayings interfere with them. You can’t control and tell them what to feel if your opinions do offend them. This particular concept has been massively misunderstood by people, resulting in hard feelings among society.

Two, the lack of comprehension regarding certain situations. Lack of comprehension can be caused by the lack of perspective as well. There is always both sides (or more) of every stories. Only looking from one side of the story narrowed our perspective, and we don’t want a narrowed perspective as the foundation in forming our arguments or judgments. The tendency of a biased argument will appear stronger. That’s why it is highly important to always look for both sides of the stories. Seek for details. Understand the context. A very simple example is helping people. Helping people is a good action, but what about helping your friend on a test? Is it still a good action? When the context is a test (or celebration of learning, as Mom calls it), helping your friend would be considered cheating. That’s how context plays a huge role in crafting your argument.

Three, unawareness of the consequences. Each action, each sentence, each opinion, they all possess power in forming the society you want to see, regardless whether they are significant or not. Be happy for it, but also be extremely cautious. Don’t do the mistake of the shepherd boy. He did not know the consequences of his cries. Your actions have impact. The shepherd boy was completely unaware of it. If you keep tricking people, they will stop believing in you. It’s not rocket science. What was the impact of the unawareness for the boy? He got eaten by the wolf. That was really extreme, I agree, but you get the idea. Know the consequences of your words. Think far ahead, put all the possible scenarios to your consideration. Jumping head first is more often a bad idea rather than good.

I am writing this because the amount of people flaunting big serious words toward other parties without enough foundation in their accusations is getting more and more concerning. Let’s be cool-headed. Put together all perspectives in every considerations you make, try to walk on their shoes. You will be surprised to find how everything is very rarely black or white. Consequences. Consequences. Don’t be the boy who got eaten by a wolf as a consequence of his careless words and actions.

What did you learn from The Boy Who Cried Wolf?