The Parable of The Pit

G.S. Muse
G.S. Muse
Jul 16, 2019 · 15 min read

{This story is now an audio drama. Click Here to listen now!}

A man is walking deep in a forest one day when he hears a voice cry out “Help me, is anyone there!”

The man steps off the path, and walks deeper into the forest. “I hear you, where are you?”

“Down here!” The voice replies.

The man sees no one, but follows the voice, until he nearly trips at the mouth of an open pit, barely visible from the uneven terrain and forest debris.

“Can you help me?” The man siting in the pit asks. “I’ve been stuck down here for a really long time, and no one has come by.”

“How did you fall in?”

The man in the pit answered “I was walking in the woods, and I just fell in. I couldn’t see the pit until it was too late.”

“Do you want me to go get help?” The first man asked.

“I’ve been alone here for so long. This pit has been a great hardship. Will you stay and talk with me for a little while first, and then go get help?”

The first man agreed.

The two stayed and talked for hours, as the man in the pit explained the fear and sadness that the pit had caused him.

Seeing that the Sun was getting low in the sky, and suddenly recalling the contents of his backpack, the man outside the pit said “I think I have a rope in my bag. Let me check.”

Sure enough, he found the thick tan rope, which was perfect for supporting the weight of a man.

He tied it to the trunk of a tree, and threw the other end of the rope into the pit, with a few feet of length to spare.

The man in the pit looked at the rope, but did not stand.

Somewhat bewildered, the man outside the pit said “You can climb out now. I tied the other end of the rope to a strong oak tree, and they will support your weight as you lift yourself to safety.”

“I-I’m not ready yet.” The man in the pit replied “Can we talk for just a bit longer before I try to climb out?”

The first man agreed.

The two continued talking for several more hours as the Sun grew lower in the sky.

Eventually the man outside the pit said “You should probably climb out now, the Sun is going down, and it will be night soon.”

“I-I’m afraid that I might not be strong enough to use the rope. Do you possibly have anything else I could use?”

The man outside the pit remembered a small cabin about a mile back that had long been abandoned.

He went to the cabin, and found a ladder. It was old, and dusty, but still in good shape, and still strong enough to easily hold the weight of a man.

He returned to the pit and lowered the ladder in.

The man in the pit continued sitting where he was and upon seeing the ladder frowned. He lowered his eyes, not rising, and instead staring at the dirt floor of the pit.

“What’s wrong?” Asked the first man after a long moment’s pause “Are you injured? Why aren’t you climbing out of the pit?”

“Have you no compassion for me?” Complained the man in the pit.

The man outside the pit was stunned. “I don’t understand what you mean. Have I said something that offended you?”

“You’re wanting to just give me this ladder, and yet you have no pity for me. Don’t you realize I am stuck here in this pit!”

The first man thought for a moment and realized that the man in the pit was in distress, and wasn’t thinking clearly.

He asked the man in the pit what he could do, and the man in the pit answered that he wanted to talk for a bit, and then decide what they would do afterward.

The man outside of the pit reluctantly agreed, and the two spoke for awhile, as the outline of the Sun began to lower behind the mountains.

“I really don’t want to offend you,” said the man outside of the pit “but you should probably try to use the rope or the ladder now. It’s going to be dark soon, and you might fall into another pit if you don’t climb out soon.”

“How dare you look down on me from way up there! You should have compassion for my feelings!” said the man in the pit.

“I know it’s hard, but if you at least try, you might be able to climb out of the pit, then you won’t feel so much despair.”

“And you think that ropes and ladders will solve all of my life’s problems.”

“They might not solve all of your life’s problems, but they may at least solve this one. And at least you would no longer have the despair from being in a pit.”

“So you think it’s my fault that I fell into this pit! I bet you’ve never been trapped in a pit! How dare you judge me!”

The Sun was halfway gone by this point. The first man thought for a long moment, trying to understand the situation and the other man’s perspective, considering what he should do.

“Do you want to stay in the pit?” The first man finally asked, confused.

The second man responded, “Lean down, grab my hand, and pull me out.”

“I can’t do that.” Replied the first man “Then we could both be trapped in the pit, and I might be too injured from the fall to climb out. Besides, I am not strong enough to carry the weight of another man.”

He then added “I think I saw a shovel in the cabin. Perhaps you could dig a stairway and climb out. Would you like me to get it for you?”

The man in the pit responded in a sullen tone “Sure.”

The last of the Sun was barely visible above the mountains by this point, and once the man returned with the shovel, it was completely dark. He had to step carefully and slowly, lest he fall into the pit himself.

“Where are you?” He called out.

“Over here.” The other man’s voice replied.

The man reached the edge of the pit, a sliver of moonlight shining behind a cloud.

“I have the shovel, but I can barely see you. I am going to drop it here at the edge of the pit so that it does not hit you.”

The man in the pit said nothing.

The first man dropped the shovel into the pit, and heard the blade stick into the dirt floor underneath.

The man in the pit didn’t make a sound, and didn’t seem to move.

“Do you see the shovel, can you dig your way out?”

There was a long pause.

“Are you okay?” The man outside the pit finally asked.

“Stop trying to force me to do things your way!” The man in the pit finally replied. “I’ve tried everything and fought really hard to get out of this pit, and here you come along with ropes and ladders and a shovel, thinking you’re better than me, and acting like I am doing it wrong!”

The first man took a deep sigh and said, “I know your situation is difficult on a number of levels, but I’ve given you the rope, the ladder, and the shovel to try and climb out. Are you going to stand up, and take one of these things, and at least attempt to take this opportunity to free yourself?”

“How dare you judge me! You’re no better than me. If you were the one trapped in this pit, you would know what it’s like, and you would want someone to feel compassion for you. You would want them to feel bad for you, and talk with you.”

The man outside the pit said nothing at first. He looked around at the dark trees, and up at the thin sliver of light from the moon, realizing that there was little else he could do for the man, and that he would already be in danger trying to travel home in the dark.

“I am going to go.” The first man said. “You have your rope, and your ladder, and your shovel. If you choose not to use them, then you will be trapped in the pit. Perhaps someone else will come along and carry you out, but I’ve given you the tools you need to at least attempt to climb to freedom.”

With that, the first man began to walk away.

Cries came from the pit: “How dare you leave me! You ought to have compassion on others!”

The voice soon faded as the sound was muffled by the uneven ground and the forest all around.

The man continued, carefully walking through the dark, until his foot nearly slipped into a hole, and he managed to pull himself back.

Tripping over a tree root, he fell backwards onto the ground. Groaning as he rose back to his feet, he brushed the dirt and leaves off of his clothes.

“Is someone there?” A voice called out.

He realized that there was a pit in front of him, and wondered if he had been walking in circles, but then he noticed that this was not the voice of the man from before. This voice was somewhat older, and deeper.

“I’m here.” The first man replied.

“Oh thank God!” The voice replied. “I fell into this pit, and I have been unable to get out on my own.”

“I wish I could help,” said the first man, “but I left my rope some ways back in the woods, and I am afraid I won’t be able to find it again in the dark.”

“I have a rope.” The deeper voice said. “If I toss it up to you, would you be willing to tie one end around a tree so I can pull myself out?”

The first man was skeptical of whether he should try to help another person, especially since it was dark and he was already having trouble finding his way back. But he agreed. He took the rope and he tied it around a tree. It was not as strong as the oak beside the other pit, but it would do.

He called out, “I’ve tied the rope — you can climb out now!”

The rope became taught, as the older man in the pit climbed his way out and stepped onto the ground above the pit.

“Thank you,” he said. “I’ve been trapped in that pit all day, trying to find a way out. Had it been any longer, I’m not sure what I was going to do.”

The first man was relieved, realizing that his effort to help this other person had not been in vain.

“If there’s ever anything I can do as a small thank you for freeing me from that pit, don’t hesitate to ask.”

The first man nodded (not that the other man could see him in the dark).

“Sadly, we both might be in a conundrum. You might be free from the pit, but we are both stuck in these woods. I am not sure how to get out of them from here in the dark, and I have no light.”

“I have a light,” the other man said.

He shuffled around in his bag and pulled something out. It was a piece of wood covered in moss and four different kinds of glowing mushrooms, each with their own color. The wood gave enough light to reveal much of the forest around them, as well as the man’s features.

He was some years older than the first man, and very strong, with a boldness on his face, and a drive in his eyes.

The two walked through the forest until they heard another voice cry out from a pit. It was another man who had fallen with no one to help him out.

They used the same rope that the older man had used to climb free, and tied it to a tree, allowing this third man to free himself.

The third man thanked the two travelers, and together they continued, freeing dozens more as they made their way back to the town where the first man lived. Some were in a more desperate state than others before the men freed them from the pit, but each was grateful to their liberators.

Upon arriving back at the town, the new traveling companions parted ways, each continuing towards his home or destination.

Finally, just the two men stood together, outside of the first man’s house. The older man, turning to the first, said, “Thank you once again for saving my life. You’ve helped so many people today. Many of them may not have made it without you.”

No smile came across the first man’s face. But he realized that had he stayed with the man who would not free himself, he might have been trapped in the forest, and possibly fallen into one of the pits in the dark himself.

“Just glad I could help.”

Author’s Note

Thank you for reading my story.

Often in life we will come across those in despair, and will have a strong desire to help them out of their pit. To paraphrase the famous economist Dr. Thomas Sowell, we generally don’t like to see our fellow human beings suffer.

There are times when it is good to help our fellow man (and by man, this can include women and children of both genders). There may even be times when this is a moral imperative, such as calling for an ambulance, or calling the police to let them know that there is a man stuck in an actual pit.

But there are also times to say “no,” and even times when saying “no” is a moral imperative.

The main character in our story could have needlessly sacrificed himself for the superficial comfort of the original man in the pit. But to “sacrifice” oneself for “others” in this respect would have been a moral travesty. Depending on the time or region where this story takes place (and I am sure it has happened at many times and many places in many ways) the character may have been in danger of wolves or criminals, or other large animals and dangers by staying with this man past nightfall when the man in the pit refused to take the steps needed to help himself to freedom.

The first man owed it to himself not to sacrifice his life needlessly or for a cause that was not worthy of the loss of his life.

Often we hear it preached in schools, churches, and in every part of our society that it is the moral ideal to put others before ourselves, and to do so blindly.

There are generous human beings out there, myself included, who often want to save the whole world. But are we in the place of God? That we should even have the ability to save the whole world in the first place?

The famous philosopher and atheist, Ayn Rand once said “It is not your job to save everyone’s soul.” As a Christian I agree. The job of Messiah has already been taken by Christ, and He is the only person who even has the ability to fill that role.

In the case of the man in the story, he owed it to himself and to God to live his own life, and to preserve it. By walking away from the pit he was making the right decision, even if no one but himself benefited from it. It was a decision he should have made hours before.

By saying “no” to the man in need, he was doing the right thing for himself. It was the morally necessary thing to do.

As for the man in the pit, at the very least, this would allow the first man to go back to town to get him help. He had already given the poor man the tools to free himself, and there was no benefit to be gained by staying with him.

But had he stayed, not only would he have risked his own life — unreasonably and immorally — he also would not have had the opportunity to free so many others through his “selfish” action.

There are those who might object to what I have written here. They might accuse me of glorifying selfishness, and they would be right. But I respond that nowhere in the Bible is this sort of “selfishness” condemned. Quite the opposite, even in the Parable of Virgins, Jesus Christ Himself talked about wise virgins who refused to give up their place in a wedding for the sake of their foolish companions who had neglected to bring enough oil to light their own lamps. Throughout the Bible, we are indeed taught to be kind to other human beings, but we are also taught to take care of ourselves and seek for the reward that God has to offer to us, and to do so for our own sake.

This is part of why Biblical Christianity and the philosophy of “altruism” are incompatible. Altruism does not just mean doing good to others. Altruism refers to a specific philosophical system that says that the highest moral ideal is that which does good to others, even while causing harm to oneself, and even recklessly and blindly. Sadly, and contrary to the Bible, most churches in American preach this elements of this philosophy.

As you can imagine, I was inspired to write this story by The Fable of The Bridge by Rabbi Edwin Friedman. In Friedman’s story, a man has to make a choice between cutting himself free from a rope that will let another man fall to his death and continuing on his journey, or staying with the stubborn man and sacrificing a great opportunity. The story is well written, and I recommend it to everyone, but most of the circumstances we encounter in life don’t involve letting someone we care about fall to their death; rather they involve letting someone remain stuck in a hard situation. There are times when ropes do need to be cut, and we need to allow others to suffer the consequences of their own decisions.

In my case, I’ve known people who just wanted to complain about their “pit” to someone, rather than taking the advice and needed steps to climb out of it. I wrote this story mostly for my own sake, as a means of being able to walk away from situations in which another person refuses to at least try to take the difficult steps to be free. No doubt their situations are hard, and climbing out will be difficult, but one must care for his own life.

In the real world, a man in a pit may have a broken leg and need a mercy flight to a hospital, but, even then, the moral ideal is that his leg would recover and the man would go back to standing on his own two feet and caring for his own life.

A bum who refuses to stand and expects others to care for him is a moral disgrace, especially when he places themselves as being morally superior for being a bum. (Democratic Socialist is just one of the popular terms used today for these bums.)

In terms of economics, there is an application here as well. Just as one rope was used to raise dozens of people out of a pit, Free Markets have used resources around the world to raise billions of people out of poverty. Since the year 1970, the rate of starvation-level poverty around the world has fallen by some 80%. This is not primarily due to internationally charity. This amazing progress has been the direct result of Capitalism. When two men are allowed to freely trade with one another, without coercion, and by consent, both parties become richer as a result. There is no “fixed pie” in the world where slices get smaller as more people are born or as “rich” people become richer. In fact, in the United States, not only are the rich getting richer, but the poor are getting richer as well. I have had many people get visibly angry when I point this out, but this is an economic fact.

I write more about this in articles I will link towards the end.

If you would like to know more, I recommend the resources of my fellow authors and speakers at For The New Christian Intellectual. They can be found on their Website, YouTube page, and even their Medium Publication, where many articles are written by yours truly.

As for me, please feel free to check out more of my content. As someone with a background in Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience, I often write about the scientific evidence for Biblical Creation. I also like to write about economics and social commentary. But the thing I like to write the most is Science Fiction, and you can find some of my best work on my Amazon Page.

I also have a Newsletter where I let my fans know when I publish new videos, stories, or articles. You can learn more about my content, and subscribe to my Newsletter through my website:

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For the New Christian Intellectual

Ideas Matter - Help restore the mind in Christian life

G.S. Muse

Written by

G.S. Muse

G.S. Muse, also known as GreenSlugg on YouTube or simply as “Greg” is a lab technician, youtuber, author, and blogger. His work can be found at GreenSlugg.com

For the New Christian Intellectual

Ideas Matter - Help restore the mind in Christian life

G.S. Muse

Written by

G.S. Muse

G.S. Muse, also known as GreenSlugg on YouTube or simply as “Greg” is a lab technician, youtuber, author, and blogger. His work can be found at GreenSlugg.com

For the New Christian Intellectual

Ideas Matter - Help restore the mind in Christian life

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