Monday, December 09, 2013
The Village Idiot
Once upon a time there was a village named Egoville hidden away
in the mountains. Now, this village, like most villages, had
their own idiot. His name was Hugh Millety.
Hugh, the village idiot, was the ridicule of Egoville.
The towns folk would often set him up with silly choices in order
to laugh mercilessly at him when he made the wrong choice.
"Hugh," they'd say, "would you rather have this shiny new
quarter or this dirty old torn dollar bill?"
"I'd like the shiny quarter," Hugh would reply. His tormentor
would give him the quarter and walk away laughing, declaring
Hugh a true village idiot. Hugh would just shrug and go about
Even though it was a poor village with little opportunity, this
was repeated several times a day by many people. As the years
went by, the ridicule became a ritual that dozens of townies
took part in. The towns folk had little to their names, but at
least they could feel better about themselves in comparison to
the village idiot this way. It was their small comfort in the
lap of poverty.
Not everyone would make fun of Hugh though. A few felt sorry for
him and gave him hand-me-down clothes, leftover food, and even
an old shack to live in at the edge of town. Hugh lived off of
the handouts of the charitable few.
One day, Hugh showed up at the village square wearing a brand new
suit. Everyone was amazed, for few people in the town could
afford new clothing, let alone a nice suit. The small village
didn't even have a new clothing store, only a used clothing store.
One of townsfolk asked Hugh where he got his new suit, thinking
he must have stolen it. He bought it, he told them. And
furthermore he added, the fine new house being built on the
mountainside that everyone was wondering about, that was his.
When questioned where he got the money, he told them it was the
money they gave him. With people giving him food, clothing, and
shelter, he simply saved and invested everything they gave him.
"I may be your village idiot," he smiled and said,
"but I'm no fool."
But why then, they asked, did he always take the lesser amount
of money they offered him if he was so cunning?
Hugh replied that if he had taken the greater amount of money,
they would have stopped offering it to him. He earned his money
by letting them laugh at him, but he knew the first time he took
the greater amount they'd stop offering him money and find
something else to laugh at him about.
"Now," said Hugh, "I'm the richest person in town and have all
the money I need. I didn't waste money amusing myself at the
expense of someone I falsely perceived to be a lesser person.
And you, all of you, have little more now than you had when you
started ridiculing me. So tell me, who is the village idiot now?"
Hugh smiled again, then handed out hundred dollar bills to those
who had been kind to him. The townsfolk were shocked. It was
true though, they had frittered away their money a little at a
time, trying to make themselves feel big by comparison to the
It just goes to show you, if you live in Egoville, take care not
to become the village idiot by your vain perceptions. On the
other hand, if you follow the wisdom of Hugh Millety, you might
just become the richest person in town.