Posted on November 15, 2010


He was welcomed into the house in the hope that like most others who crossed the treshold of your home he would be part of the family. You treated him not as a guest but a family member. He had family rights. You gave him big roles to play within the family. Not token or cosmetic but high-level positions, important work that was key to your family’s business. He was entrusted such big roles that even those who became family members much much earlier than him were not priviledged to have until today.

But it was never enough for him.

His attention was not on those tasks assigned to him. Even important family meetings he often felt wasn’t worth his attention nor attendance. He had the opportunities to make progress in the family life and gain admiration and gratitude if only he were willing and able to perform his duties. Even his criticism would have found hearing ears at home if only he had earned respect to be listened to by fufliing his domestic assignments. (You are asked to wash the plates not leave it in the kitchen sink or worse still, break it.)

As it turned out, after just a year in the family home, he wanted to be second only to the patriarch and matriarch of the family. Which was fine too by the family rules except for the way he went about it.

By his own admission, he loved calling “a spade, a spade”. That was as long as he was the one doing the calling. But when others started calling a spade, a spade in regard to him, he cried foul and took great exception to the fact that the spade which was his favourite tool of choice when found in another person’s hand and turned against him became what he called ‘sabotage’, and ‘lies’.

I need to check, before I next pick up my garden tool, but could it be that he was the fellow who did the world the favour by inventing the spade? Only he had the right to use a spade?

So it was that from his behaviour, it was alright for him to say anything about anyone but no one must say anything about him. He termed himself as the “messenger of truth” and those who disagreed with him were therefore to his mind snipers who were out to shoot the messenger of truth.

Even that was fine and within his rights.

But even this much wasn’t enough. Before he started to go about the process of becoming second only to the patriarch and matriarch of the family, he was saying that he would make a good match to them. Then, when it appeared that he might not after all be favoured by them, he (and I hesitate to say this in front of the children and young in the family and I am counting till ten…) said it was high time the patriarch should leave the house! Yes you heard me right, the patriarch was the problem for the ills of the family and unless he went, the family would never prosper.

It was alright to find a corner of the house to sulk in. But it seemed that even that wasn’t enough for this guest (since he would not conduct himself as a family member). He is now going about burning the house down. It looks and sounds like: “If I can’t get what I want, then others can’t have it either” or “A house without me isn’t worth keeping”.

In any family, there will be disagreements, complaints and any family will do well to do some spring cleaning from time to time. Not sweep everything under the carpet, mind you, but spring cleaning.

But it is not alright to burn the house down!

What is the moral of this story? When you next open the doors of your house to the next person who comes a-knocking, be sure to have the call number of the nearest fire brigade handy.

Posted in: Parables