-- By Elizabeth Schroeder Chesney
In a small village, there was a woman who looked after the towns children during the day while their mothers tended the fields and their fathers hunted in the forest.
The children all knew one another and played well together. When they weren't running, jumping and playing they were singing songs happily or sitting together chatting in small groups, admiring the birds and the clouds and the insects that busily crawled amongst them carrying their food and building their homes.
One day one of the children brought a slingshot from home. He picked up a rock and promptly slung it at the head of one of the other children, who ran away in tears with blood running down his face. The next day, two other children brought slingshots, and by the end of the afternoon, they too had picked up rocks and slung them at other children. One child lost an eye permanently.
By the end of the week, more than half of the children had brought slingshots to the playground. The ones that carried them strutted amongst the other children haughtily. Soon they grabbed their rocks and began shooting one another, resulting in many serious injuries.
That afternoon, the woman who tended the children took all of the slingshots away. She told the children that slingshots were no longer allowed at the playground. She returned the slingshots to the parents and told them that from this moment on, slingshots were permanently banned from the playground.
The next day, the children sheepishly returned to the playground without their slingshots. There was little playing, or singing, or chatting amongst the children. They were still quite frightened and confused. They weren't sure who to trust, or what would happen next.
A few children were angry that they were no longer allowed to carry slingshots. In the short time that they had carried them, they had come to enjoy the feeling of power the slingshots gave them over the other children.
For the next several days, the children remained quiet and isolated on the playground.
Finally, after a bit more time had passed, some of the children began running, jumping and playing together. They soon sang songs again, and happily sat together chatting in small groups, admiring the birds and the clouds and the insects that busily crawled amongst them, carrying their food and building their homes.