Selo Ethics #4 — An Eye For An Eye Is Fair

Two good friends are sitting on the bank of the Danube river, where after an evening of fishing they are surprised by a strange creature.

The supernatural being tells the men that she has an offer to make them, and that if either one of them refuses her, they will both be killed.

“You have two choices,” asserts the nymph.

“I will give one of you 1 million dinars, and the other 10 million dinars, but you won’t know who will get how much until tomorrow morning when you wake up. You also cannot share your winnings. On the other hand, I will spare both your lives, but the price you must pay is that I will gouge out from each of you a single eye. You will live the rest of your lives half blind. You must choose together, at the same time, and you may not run away or else you will both die.”

The two men, who were born and raised in the same Selo, and who have been friends for as long as they can remember, turn to each other and sigh. Of course, they have only one option. They choose to have their eyes gouged out.

The nymph obliges, but at the last minute decides that one eye each is not enough, and both men spend the rest of their lives totally blind.

This short parable reveals a common ethic that tends to emerge in small-scale agricultural societies:

“We’re all pretty much doing the same thing. I farm sheep. You grow cabbages. There’s nothing you can do that I can’t do. Where did you get your extra money? If you have gold that I don’t know about, then where did you steal it from so I can get some too?”

I suppose that if you are not comfortable when the people around you succeed, you may as well already be blind.

But that’s just my two Kunas. Frankly, I think my grandfather made this one up.


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