A rich man heard his son mocking a boy whose father was a relatively poor but comfortable farmer, so he decided to teach him a lesson.
Leo was a rich man who owned several farms in the Southern area. He had been born into a long line of wealthy landowners, and rather than lease out the land as his predecessors did, he chose to convert most of the grounds into farms.
Only the most experienced farmers tended each farm — the best money could hire — and they helped make the venture a success.
Leo lived with his wife and son on a ranch about thirty minutes away from his first farm. It was one of his biggest and most profitable farms mainly because it was not just focused on tending crops for food and export; it also specialized in rearing animals.
When Leo saw the size of the land, he knew it would be a waste to till all of it, so he got a contractor to divide the land into two separate enclosures, one to cater to plants and the other for the animals.
While looking for a farmhand to put in charge of such a large operation, Leo had a few qualities in mind. He wanted a trustworthy, humble, and hardworking person who wouldn’t ruin his investment with the usual vices, especially gambling.
He considered himself blessed when he found a man like John and his family, all of whom worked on the farm in different capacities.
One day, Leo brought his son, Michael, to the big farm managed by John. He did this to prepare his boy for running a farm business. He took him on a tour of all the facilities, teaching him about their importance and uses.
Afterward, he gave him free rein to explore while he attended a meeting with John. They spoke for about an hour before they wrapped things up, and Leo left him to look for Michael.
He asked the farmhands about where he had last been seen, and they pointed him to the barn. He had almost reached the large doors when he heard Michael talking to someone inside.
As Leo moved closer, he saw his son backing another boy into a corner with malicious intent.
“Just because my father put yours in charge of this one farm does not make you a master here. You’re just a servant like your father, worthless to be anything else but a stepping stone for people like me and my family.”
Michael would have continued had he not heard someone clear his throat from the doorway. The sound seemed familiar, and one quick look over his shoulder confirmed it was his father.
“We will continue your education later,” he said to John’s son, Josh, before he turned around and went to his father.
“Hey dad, ready to go?” he asked, with a smile on his 12-year-old face.
“Yes I am,” Leo said. “Who’s your new friend?” he asked after a moment.
“Him?” Michael asked, pointing to Josh, who had returned to stacking hay bales very quickly, no doubt hoping to get out of there before he got picked on again.
“He’s not my friend, he’s just some poor loser,” Michael said proudly.
“What makes him a loser son?” Leo asked.
“Well, he…” Michael had become visibly nervous. He could not think of any reason his father would understand, so he blurted out what he felt was right.
“He is nothing, just the son of a farmer following in his father’s footsteps. And he’s so stupid and slow.”
“Is he?” Leo asked softly. “Is that what you see when you look at him?”
“I – I think so,” Michael stammered.
Leo was deeply disturbed by what he witnessed and what his son told him, so he took him on another tour of the farm. This time he pointed out the farmlands and what the farmers did, explaining that the farm would not exist without them.
He also told him about how nobody gets to choose their parents.
“You could have been born in his place and he in yours. Would you like another child to say to you what you said to him?” Leo asked.
“No,” Michael said, chastised. “I would be hurt by such talk.”
After a moment, he looked up at his father, who had remained quiet beside him as he put his thoughts in order.
“I think I should apologize to him,” Michael said.
“I think you should too,” his father replied.
They circled back and found Josh with his father, then the two men left both boys to settle their dispute. Michael apologized and offered to be Josh’s friend, and they both made up.
When they caught up with their fathers, Leo made an announcement. He decided Michael would learn better by having a more hands-on experience on the farm.
Leo told him he would return the following day to pick up farm duties alongside Josh. As far as he was concerned, it was suitable punishment and an excellent opportunity to learn and understand how vital every work on the farm is.
After a month of steady work on the farm, Michael was summoned by his father to reveal what he had learned.
“Oh father, I have learned a lot,” he began excitedly.
“It’s a different world out there! We have a pool, and they have a whole river, we hang bulbs in the house, and they have stars burning above them, our yard ends with a gate, and their yard knows no end, we have built around our house walls to protect us from enemies, and they have friends who will immediately rush to help.”
“And what have all these taught you?” Leo asked proudly.
“That happiness can not be found in material things,” Michael answered.
Leo felt fulfilled about his son’s growth, and Michael never forgot his lesson even after he inherited the family business.