Once there were four Indian medicine men who were considered to be the most clever and knowledgeable across all the prairies and forests. They learned nearly everything about nearly anything and were often asked for advice and to find solutions for the most difficult problems.
One day, a young Indian boy asked which of the four was the wisest because of course there must be one more wise than the others. This caused much arguing and debating among the people. To find out once and for all, one of the elders of the nation was given the task of devising a test to settle the matter.
After much consideration, the perfect test was put before them. The four medicine men were told to walk into the woods. Their test would be found at the base of a single cedar tree in a broad clearing. They started out early the next morning and, after walking many miles, came to the tree in the clearing. At the base of the tree was a large pile of bleached bones of an animal.
The four were puzzled over the bones for some time before the first man spoke. “I will use my knowledge to put these bones back together. That will prove my wisdom.” After some time, the bones stood erect and interlocking.
The men examined the project and the second man said, “Ah! I know where these bones came from. I can put flesh and fur back on them and restore the animal’s beauty.” The second man began his work, and in a while a fierce-looking grizzly bear stood before them.
The four men marveled at the animal’s beauty, but the two began to bicker about which one’s work was best. Just then, the third man spoke up. “I believe I can bring the bear back the life. Then I will be the greatest of all.”
The fourth man had been quiet until now. “Wait! I don’t think our test was to see if we could bring the animal back to life.” He pleaded, but the others would not listen. When he realized he was being ignored, he quietly climbed to the top of the cedar tree and watched.
The third man got busy and soon had breathed life into the grizzly bear using his great talents. The bear stretched and roared. Then he chased the men growling and clawing at them. He chased them all the way back to their village where they were finally rescued by the village’s mighty hunters.
Later, the fourth wise man walked back to the village. Everyone had taken him for dead, the others were so busy arguing that they did not see him climb the tree. It was then that everyone realized that he was indeed the wisest of all.
Lessons from this story:
- Thinking and acting like you are the smartest/wisest person in the group can end up hurting you one way or another.
- It’s not about knowing the most about a certain thing, it’s about how to best use the tools, knowledge and circumstances you find yourself in to solve a certain situation/problem/challenge.
- Observe, learn, and speak wisely when it counts.
Are there any lessons I missed from this story? Please let me know in the comment section.
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