The Story of Stone Soup
A kindly, old stranger was walking through the land when he came upon a village. As he entered, the villagers moved towards their homes locking doors and windows. The stranger smiled and asked, “Why are you all so frightened. I am a simple traveler, looking for a soft place to stay for the night and a warm place for a meal.”
“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “We are weak, and our children are starving. Better keep moving on.”
“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron pot from his cloak, filled it with water, and began to build a fire under it.
Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a silken bag and dropped it into the water. By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come out of their homes or watched from their windows. As the stranger sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their fear.
“Ahh,” the stranger said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that is really delicious.” Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a small cabbage he had in a hiding place, and added it to the pot.
“Wonderful!!” cried the stranger. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of meat as well, and it was fit for a king.” The village butcher managed to find some salt beef.
And so the story continues through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on. Every villager contributed a little something to create a delicious meal. There was enough for everyone to share. A village that was starving to death ate a full meal that day.
As the stranger left, he came upon a group of village children standing near the road. He gave the silken bag containing the stone to the youngest child. He whispered a secret to the child. “It was not the stone, but the villagers that performed the magic. Take this stone and make stone soup again tomorrow.”
What is the lesson?
With the right leadership, people can do great things together!