The Townspeople and the Boy Who Cried Wolf
In the classic telling of Aesop’s Boy Who Cried Wolf, a boy who is bored while tending sheep stirs up excitement for himself by making up a story about a wolf attacking the flock. He cries to the townspeople and they come to his aid to defend the sheep, only to find there was no threat. Satisfied with the outcome, he repeats this several times.
Eventually, the townspeople grow tired of his lies, and crucially they grow numb.
One day, a wolf does show up and devours the flock. The boy of course cried out to the townspeople for help, but no one believed him.
The moral of the story is classically framed in terms of the boy’s error: if he wanted the people to believe him, he shouldn’t have lied. But this is not the only lesson, and I dare say it is not the most important one in the allegory.
You see, the sheep were not the boy’s but the town’s. Everyone was hurt by the error. The townspeople assumed that if the boy said it, it must not be true.
There is a danger in adapting too much — a danger in growing numb and letting your guard down. The boy was wrong to lie, and the townspeople were wrong to assume.
Today we are bombarded with lies. This is the cost of cheap information. Whether you believe everything you read, or disbelieve everything, you are controlled. Remain sovereign.