In silence we wait and let others influence us with shock and fear. Their tongues, without bone or brawn, have the power to destroy both hearts and worlds. Yet, why do we listen when another voice offers us life?
Many years ago there was a businessman who was so excessive that he spent all of his money on new commercials to advertise the businesses that he owned. He cared little for his office equipment. He cared less for his workers. His only concern was that the outside of his businesses looked brilliant so that he could keep making commercials. Where most business owners would be thinking about long term goals, returns on investments, and the quality of all the resources in their care, the businessman’s only concern was having a new commercial each and every week.
Time passed in the sleepy town, as it always does, until one day new whispers ﬂowed through the rivers of gossip. Two strangers had arrived, important strangers. Strangers who were said to be masters at creating beautiful and wondrous commercials.
The townsfolk heard the strangers say, “anyone who cannot see and appreciate the beauty of our creations simply is not worthy of the job that they hold.”
It wasn’t long before the businessman heard of the strangers. He said, “Everyone knows me near and far. I am simply the best and so are my commercials! Surely the strangers have come into this town because they have heard of me and want to create some of my brilliant commercials.” And, the businessman waited.
The townsfolk said, “Who are these strangers?”
“What are their names?”
“Where are they from?”
And the business paced and waited.
The townsfolk said, “What commercials have they created?”
“Surely their commercials have played in the Super Bowl or the World Series or the World Cup or even greater venues!”
And the businessman paced and paced.
The townsfolk said, “We must see their creations!”
“Surely YouTube will have something.”
Finally the businessman could stand it no longer. The businessman turned to his most trusted adviser. “Bring those strangers to my office immediately! I must hire them.”
The adviser ran off to meet the strangers. It wasn’t hard to find them. The adviser said to the strangers, “The most important man in town requires you to meet with him.”
The strangers refused.
The townsfolk gasped at the strangers’ audacity. “How could they refuse?”
Again and again the businessman sent for the strangers.
Again and again the strangers refused. Saying nothing more than no.
The town grew quiet. The days became still. Only whispered gasps besides cold cups of coffee could be heard.
The businessman could not eat. He paced. He lost sleep. He talked to himself. “How can they refuse me? Me! Surely they know something. My commercials are rubbish! That must be it. My commercials are being laughed at. That must be the truth! Those strangers have come to laugh at me! And taunt me! What can I do? How can I convince them to make my commercials brilliant once more? Something MUST be done! What can I do?”
And time passed slowly by.
Then one day the businessman exploded out of his office. He stomped down Main Street, past the knowing nods and whispers of the townsfolk. “There he goes! At last he has found the answer.”
The businessman found the room that the strangers were staying in at the local hotel. He barged in without knocking. In truth, no one in the hotel could miss his presence. The businessman pointed a stubby finger at the strangers. “You will make a commercial for me!”
The strangers sat quietly at the table and shook their heads no.
The businessman fumed and fussed. He pounded on the table. He paced around the room.
The strangers quieted watched.
Finally the businessman said, “Ah, you must have a sense of humor. Of course you will make my commercials.”
Again the strangers shook their heads.
For probably the first time in his life, the businessman was stumped. He had never wanted anything more in his life. “What can I do? What can I do?”
The businessman left the room a defeated man. He paced the streets like a ghost.
All listened with rapt attention.
Meals went uneaten.
Bread was burned.
Coffee went cold.
All waited in fear.
Time passed with quiet and stillness, except for the dejected businessman, and the secret smiles of two strangers.
Finally the businessman stopped. “I have it! I’m sure! I know what those horrible strangers want!”
The businessman pounded down the streets, past the watching townsfolk.
The townsfolk smiled knowing smiles at the businessman. “Surely the strangers cannot refuse you now!”
The businessman stormed back into the hotel.
The businessman told the strangers. “You will not refuse me again! You will create a commercial for me. I will pay you whatever you say!”
The strangers huddled for only a moment. “We can no longer say no. Still, we do have an issue.”
The businessman’s heart stopped and his blood ran cold with fear. “Surely I, of all people, can solve this obviously minor complaint!”
The strangers said, “We are on vacation. We have no equipment here. You will have to furnish us with everything that we need.”
The businessman did not hesitate. “Then it’s a deal! Follow me.”
Off they went to the neighborhood electronics store where the businessman cornered the owner. “Buy the strangers whatever they want and rent out the TV station’s studio for however long they need!”
The technology store owner smiled warmly and said, “Whatever you say.”
It wasn’t long before the strangers sat happily in the studio, surrounded by their new and very expensive equipment. Eating the very best food that the town had to offer. Playing the best online video games that were available. Watching their favorite movies with a magnificent sound system. And all, without paying a dime. And all, without creating any commercials.
Day after day the businessman came to the studio’s door and waited.
Day after day the strangers said, “anyone who cannot see and appreciate the beauty of our creations simply is not worthy of the job they hold. We are making progress, but our brilliant commercial is not yet ready for viewing.”
The businessman, not wanting to interrupt the strangers’ creativity, walked back to his office and wore holes in his expensive and thick carpet.
Time crawled by while the money flowed into the stranger’s pockets like a raging river.
Finally the strangers were ready to show their progress. The businessman was giddy with excitement. He craved to see the wondrous commercial. Suddenly, he became embarrassed at the thought of what the strangers kept saying. “Anyone who cannot see and appreciate the beauty of our creations simply is not worthy of the job they hold.” Of course the businessman knew he was worthy, but he preferred to send someone else. “Who can I send? Who do I trust?”
The businessman thought and thought.
After some deliberation the businessman said, “I know. I will send my most trusted adviser. He will best be able to see how the commercial looks; for he is a man of sense, and no one can be more suitable for his job than he is.”
So the faithful old adviser went into the studio where the strangers were working with all their might, at their blank screens. “What can be the meaning of this?” thought the old adviser, opening his eyes very wide. “I cannot discover the least bit of any characters or action or anything at all on the screens. The screens are totally blank.” However, he did not express his thoughts aloud.
The strangers kindly beckoned the old adviser to come nearer to their screens; and then asked him whether the designs pleased him, and whether the colors were not very beautiful, and the interactions amazing; while at the same time pointing to the empty screens.
The poor old adviser looked and looked. He could not discover anything on the screens, for a very good reason, there was nothing there. “What!” The adviser thought again. “Is it possible that I am a fool? I’ve never thought so myself. If I am, no one must ever know. Can it be, that I am unfit for my office? No, that must not be said. No one can ever know. I will never confess that I could not see the commercial.”
“Well, Sir Adviser!” said one of the strangers, still pretending to work. “You do not say whether the commercial pleases you or not.”
“Oh, it is excellent!” replied the old Adviser, looking at the screens through his glasses. “Those characters, and the colors, and the amazing and clever actions. Yes, I will tell the businessman without delay, how very brilliant I think the commercial is.”
“We would greatly appreciate that. Thank you kind sir.” And the strangers beamed with pride and once again bragged about all of the brilliant details of the nonexistent commercial.
The old minister listened attentively to every word in order that he might repeat them to the businessman.
Then the strangers asked for even more supplies, saying that it was necessary to complete what they had begun. When they received the extra supplies they stored them all in their very big RV – which had every nook and cranny overflowing with brand new equipment that was worth a small fortune.
The strangers continued to work with as much apparent diligence as before at their empty screens.
More time passed with nothing moving except for the large sums of money running to the strangers.
Finally, the businessman sent his administrative assistant to see how the strangers were getting on, and to see whether the commercials would soon be ready.
It was just the same with the administrative assistant as it was with the old adviser. The assistant surveyed the screens with great scrutiny, but could see nothing at all but the blank screens.
“Is not this commercial as brilliant to you, as it was to the businessman’s adviser?” asked the strangers, while at the same time making the same gestures as before, and talking of the design and clever actions, which were not there.
“I certainly am not stupid!” thought the assistant. “It must be, that I am not ﬁt for my good and proﬁtable job! That is very odd. However, no one shall know anything about this.” And accordingly, the assistant praised all that he could not see, and declared that he was delighted with both the designs and the thought provoking actions.
The administrative assistant returned to the businessman. “Indeed, the commercial that the strangers have prepared is extraordinarily magnificent. In fact, the whole town is tremendously excited to see yet another of your brilliant commercials! Once again, you are the hit of the town!”
The businessman smiled with pride. Of course I am the hit of the town. Now, the businessman’s courage had grown enough that he wished to see the commercial himself. So, he traveled off to the studio, accompanied by a select number of business officers, among whom were the two honest men who had already admired the commercial.
The businessman went to the crafty strangers, who, as soon as they were aware of the businessman’s approach, went on working more diligently than ever – at blank screens.
Before the strangers could speak, the businessman’s adviser and assistant burst with excitement. “Is not the work absolutely magnificent? If you will be pleased to look at it. What a splendid design. What brilliant colors and action.” And they wildly pointed at the empty screens. For they imagined that everyone else could see this exquisite piece of workmanship.
“How is this?” said the businessman to himself. “I can see nothing! This is indeed a terrible affair! Am I a fool just as the strangers have said? Am I unfit to own my businesses? That would be the worst thing that could happen. I can never let anyone know that all I see are blank screens.”
“Oh! The commercial,” said the businessman, aloud. “It is truly brilliant, better than any of my other creations. It has my complete approval.” And he smiled most graciously, and looked closely at the empty screens; for never would he say that he could not see what the adviser and assistant had praised so much.
All his officers now strained their eyes, hoping to discover something on the screens, but they could see no more than the others. Without knowing what else to do, they all looked at each and said, “Magnificent! Brilliant! Excellent!” They all advised that the commercial be published the following day and shown to the entire town.
The strangers sat up the whole night with every light, in and around the studio, blazing so that everyone might see how anxious they were to finish the businessman’s newest commercial. They pretended to work feverishly to finish the final bits of their brilliant creation.
“See!” The strangers cried out at last. “The amazing commercial is now ready!”
With great pomp and circumstance, the marchers marched to center of the town. A new giant screen was set up to show off the Businessman’s newest and most brilliant commercial. And, the strangers made a great show of setting up all of the equipment.
The mayor made a speech.
The high school band played.
The people cheered.
Then all went quiet as a blue ribbon committee went to press the play button.
The townsfolk oohed and ahhed and wildly cheered and clapped their hands and each other’s shoulders as they watched the blank screen.
The businessman beamed with pride at his great creation.
The townsfolk cheered and cheered. “How splendid and timely! It has a message that all need to hear. What design! What colors! What thought provoking actions!”
After the strangers said that the commercial was finished, the townsfolk once again went quiet as the businessman made ready to give another speech.
And the voice of innocence, a small child with no malice even yet imagined, spoke out of confusion. “Where was the commercial? I didn’t see anything.”
The reactions were immediate and intense. Some workers for the businessman, along with many others, viciously attacked child. “You are obviously a stupid, nasty child who enjoys torturing small animals. You are unfit to attend our schools. We shall call the professionals immediately and test you for some brain disease.” And on and on they spewed and spewed.
No one spoke up to defend the child. No one spoke up, with compassion, to voice the cold, hard facts of what they saw = or did not see. No one spoke the truth in love. And the entire town continued on down the path to a destination where no one wanted to go.
And another life was lost … for no good reason.
In silence we wait and let others influence us with shock and fear. Their tongues, without bone or brawn, have the power to destroy both hearts and worlds. Yet, why do we listen when another voice offers us life? Just listen, and you’ll hear it too.