Parable of the Sea


A person had never seen the sea before, and wanted to know more about it, so asked three people what the sea was.

The first was an American, who said: “The sea is merely a place of recreation, for I go there to play: I jetski and surf the wave, and water-ski from fast boats. Truly the sea is a place just for recreation, though I must beware of sharks.”

The second was a Filipino, who said: “The sea is a place of life that only sustains us, for I fish there to feed my family. I swim out to the reefs and catch all manner of foods. Truly the sea is a place just for harvest, though I must beware of sharks.”

The third was an Inuit, who said: “The sea is a frozen wasteland covered by ice, though I fish in holes to feed my family. There are seals, and walruses, and polar bears roam the snowy ice sheets. Truly the sea is a frozen wasteland, though it sustains us. There are no sharks there.”

The American turned to the others and said: “I agree with the Filipino that there are sharks, but there are no reefs in the sea, and neither is the sea a place for harvest, for I get all of my food in fast food chains and café-bars. As for the Inuit, I can only say that there is no ice in the sea, nor polar bears or walruses, though there are seals. Truly you have never seen the sea and you are wrong.”

The Filipino turned to the others and said: “I agree with the Amercian that the sea can be a place of play, but there are no jetskis or surfers and there are no fast boats, but it is not simply a place for recreation, for I play with my children only on the safety of the shores. As for the inuit, I can only say that he has never seen the sea, for it is not icy of cold, but warm anf tropical, and I have never heard of bears or walruses or seals. Neither of the others has seen the sea properly, and are mistaken in their views.”

The inuit turned to the others and said: “I agree with the Filipino that the sea may be a place of harvest, but you would die to swim in it, for it is a freezing place and not warm or tropical in the slightest. There are no boats, no jetskis, and there are no sharks at all. As for the American, I can only say that he lies, for there are none of those things he says in the sea at all. Only the ice plays on the water, for I have seen this.”

Who has spoken the most truth? Who should the person who asked believe most? Organised belief insists you believe only one.

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