THE DONKEY AND THE MULE.
A man once left home on a long journey. He took with him a donkey and a mule. He placed all his goods and luggage on the donkey's back. Although he walked most of the time, he would occasionally ride the mule.
The donkey carried his load easily. He was accustomed to bearing heavy burdens. But when the three travelers began to climb the side of a steep mountain, his load became too heavy to bear.
The donkey, struggling under his load, asked the mule to help carry some of the load, explaining that he would gladly take the full burden back again after they had climbed the mountain. But the mule refused to help even a little bit.
Before long the donkey slowed and collapsed beneath his load. The man beat him mercilessly, but the donkey was too weak to go any farther.
Not knowing what else to do, the man began unloading the packs from the donkey's back and placed the entire load on the mule. Then, leaving the donkey where he had fallen, the man and the mule continued the journey.
The mule, groaning beneath his heavy burden, said to himself, If I had only been willing to help the poor donkey, I would now be bearing half the load I carry and would have a friend besides.
That's the way it goes. When we deal justly with each other, we not only make things easier on others but usually make things easier for ourselves. Not only that, but treating others fairly will make us far more friends than if we treat people unfairly.
In fact, treating other people fairly usually has at least one of three effects on our friendships: It sometimes starts friendships when none had existed before, it often strengthens friendships and makes them better than before, and it often sustains friendships-it keeps them going when they might otherwise end.
That's a pretty good track record, don't you think? So next time you have the chance to treat someone fairly, don't be mule-headed; do yourself-and the other person a favor by treating him or her fairly.
REFLECT: What three effects does fairness usually have on our friendships? Are you more like the mule in the above story (who treated his companion unfairly) or the donkey (who was treated unfairly) or neither? Do you hang around friends who treat you fairly, or do you tend to hang around friends who treat you unfairly? Why?
ACT: Seize the first chance you have this week to carry someone else's burden (for example, by helping someone carry a grocery bag or offering to run an errand for someone).
PRAY: "God, thank you for my friends. Thanks for the good things that happen when I'm fair to them."