A Tale of Three Villages

There once were three travelers whose village was flooded. Together they set out for higher ground to find a new home. As they journeyed, they reminisced in stories of their former home and their loved ones lost to the flood. As they crossed over mountains they saw a sheltered, fertile valley beyond, with a cluster of three small villages.

One said, “This land looks a lot like home, but I’m a little bit nervous about meeting new people.”

The second said, “We have become good friends. We know and trust each other, and we share tasks fairly.”

The third said, “Let’s ask good questions at each village to help us find a new home.”

Over their fire that night they came up with two questions: “How does the village make decisions,” and “What happens when you don’t agree?”

When they entered the first village, the villagers told them, “We have a powerful ruler who decides what is best for our village. The ruler’s family have been in charge for many generations. If we have a disagreement, the ruler decides for us.”

The travelers looked at each other with tight lips, then thanked the villagers and continued their journey.

When they entered the second village, they asked, “How does your village make decisions?”

The villagers responded, “We vote for a few people to represent all of us on a council. We vote for people who promise to make decisions that are the best for us. ”

Then the travelers asked, “What happens when you don’t agree with what the council decides?”

“Sometimes we don’t all like what they decide. But we have to do it.” The travelers looked at each other with disappointed eyes, then said, “thank you” and “good-bye” to those villagers, as well.

As they trudged to the third village, they talked amongst themselves.

One said, “That sounded good at first, but was it better than the village with a ruler?”

Another said, “Not really. Some people have a bigger say.”

The third said, “After the others vote for them, the people on the council can do whatever they want.”

In the third village, they soon found some villagers to ask about decision-making there. One villager smiled and said, “Come. We will show you.” The villagers formed a large circle and invited the travelers to join them.

A villager wearing a special necklace said, “We welcome you into our circle. If you would like to stay, you must accept our agreements: Speak the Truth. Keep Your Promises. Honor and Care for this Circle as Part of Earth and Sky.”

The travelers looked at each other with shiny eyes, then agreed in unison.

Another villager explained, “This is how we make important decisions: by listening to each in their turn, under these agreements, until the decision is made. This is also how we disagree, by listening to each in their turn. Sometimes, we agree to disagree, but we disagree in respect and peace.”

The travelers smiled widely. They had found their new home.

  • Why do you think the travelers decided to stay in the third village?
  • What is important to the people in the third village? What values can you notice in their Agreements?
  • What are the values that people share where you live? What rules do you go by that help you live by those values?

This story was originally published in Families Weave a Tapestry of Faith, where it was accompanied by reflection questions.