Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Cell





Once upon a time there were two sisters. Their family was rich and had land and fine horses and lovely clothes and a beautiful big house in the country. The two sisters grew up with everything they could want, except that their father was a very cold man and cared mainly for himself. While he did not usually mistreat his daughters and gave them things, he was not a loving father.

Both sisters were spoiled with material things. They both went to a fine school that only the richest girls could go to. They both owned ponies. They had cars as soon as they were old enough to drive. They went to expensive parties with their friends and their garments were of the finest cloth. They ate fine food, they never went hungry and they had a gardener, a cook and a cleaner to look after their house.

One day their father found that someone had stolen a bottle of whisky from his drinks cabinet. He was very angry and he confronted his daughters, who he believed had taken it.

Both denied the accusation and their father became angrier with them. Eventually, when neither would admit the theft, their father took them to the cellar of their big house, and put each into a small, dirty room down there. The space was small, the smell was bad and their was dirt and grime on the floor and walls. The girls wailed and wept and begged not to be locked up but their father locked the doors and put the keys in his pocket and walked away.

For two weeks they stayed down there. They wept and cried and begged for release but their father said they could only come out if one or both admitted stealing. The girls insisted they were innocent and their father called them liars.

After 14 days the father discovered that the bottle had been taken by the gardener. He immediately told his wife to release the girls from their cells but he was too arrogant to say he was sorry. When the girls emerged they were dirty and shivering. Their hair was messy and they looked nothing like the rich girls they really were. Their father made excuses for what he'd done, saying things like "What was I supposed to think?" and "It wasn't my fault, how was I supposed to know?"

He never apologised for his actions and both girls were forever hurt by what he had done and the fact that he never said sorry for the pain he had caused them.

Years later both girls had grown up and had families of their own. The older sister had three children and one day she took them to see the cell that their grandfather (now dead) had put her in. She showed them how small and dirty the room was. They saw how uncomfortable and cold it was. They saw the rats and the one small window in the ceiling. After they had looked for a short time, their mother turned to them and said:

"You must always be fair with people. I will punish you if you break my rules and if you are naughty or misbehave but I will NEVER put you in this cell or one like it. Always treat others as you would wish to be treated. If you make a mistake, admit it and say sorry."

She never took her children to see the cell again and they lived by what she had said and grew up to be fair minded and confident in themselves. They knew what was just and right and they knew that they should admit it if they were wrong.

The other sister had two children of her own. She took them to see the cell at least once a week and told them how unfair it was that her father had made her stay in it. She kept taking them to see the cell and while she told them how much she had hated being in it, and how unfair it was that she had been there, she made her children go into the cell just so they would know how she'd felt. They had to clean the cell and stay in there occasionally if they were naughty. She never locked the door but told them they had to stay in the cell. When her children cried and asked why she would say "I had to do it so why shouldn't you?"

For years she would tell her children just how horrible it had been for her to be locked in the cell, and how unfair it was that their grandfather had made her stay in there. However, she would also ensure that at every opportunity her children would be reminded that this had happened to her.

Her children grew up to be full of rage and sadness. Unable to fight back against what their mother was doing and believing that they deserved bad things to happen to them. They also thought, on a very fundamental level, that they were undeserving of their mother's love unless they suffered like she had.

Both grew up to become scared, lacking in confidence and believing they were not worthy of nice things happening to them. Overall they believed that the cell was something they should go to in order to prove they loved their mother.

Years later and the children grew up. The older sister's children had good jobs, a lot of money and children of their own. They were close to their mother and the family loved and respected each other. The sister's experience in the cell had taught her that she should never treat her family the same way. They had grown up to love her and think the world of her.

The other sister's children never married and neither had children of their own. Their self esteem had been torn asunder by their mother's insistence on reminding them of the existence of the cell. Neither child wanted to bring children into the world, for fear that they would be hurt the way they had been. They stopped speaking to their mother and she ended up lonely and isolated. However, she blamed only other people for this, saying, like her father had, that it wasn't her fault and she was not to blame for her own actions.

The moral of this tale is:


If you hurt others so they can empathise with your own pain, you will simply drive them away. Learn from your pain and move on but NEVER inflict it on others.

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