The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery. – Frederick Douglass
Bundle Of Misery
There is a Sufi parable:
A man used to call every night to God and he would pray the same prayer.
Again and again he would ask, “Do one favor for me, at least one favor — and I have been asking my whole life. As far as I can see, I am the most miserable man on the earth. Why have you chosen me to be the most miserable? I am ready to exchange my misery with anybody else, anybody will do — just let me exchange my misery with somebody else. I don’t ask for bliss. Can’t you give me only this single opportunity to exchange my misery with somebody else? This is not asking much!”
And one night in a dream he saw God had spoken. A great voice came from the heavens saying, “Gather all of your miseries into bundles and bring them to the temple hall.”
So the whole town gathers their miseries into big bundles and they bring them.
This man is tremendously happy: “So the moment has come! It seems something is going to happen!”
He rushes with his bundle. On the way he finds others also are rushing. By the time he reaches to the temple he becomes afraid, very afraid, because he sees people are carrying bigger bundles than his. People that he had always seen smiling — Rotarians, Lions — in beautiful clothes and always saying nice things to each other, and they are carrying bigger bundles! He starts becoming a little hesitant whether to go or not to go, but he has been praying his whole life, so he says, “Let us see what happens.”
They enter into the temple. The voice says, “Put your bundles around the hall.” They put their bundles, and the voice says again, “Now you can choose any bundle that you like.”
And the miracle of miracles happens: everybody rushes to his own bundle! This man also rushes so fast towards his own bundle, afraid that if somebody else chooses it then he will be at a loss.
Everybody has chosen his own bundle, with great relief and they are all happy, carrying their bundles back to their homes. Even this man is very happy, for the simple reason that “Who knows what is in the other’s bundle? At least we are aware of our own bundle and what it contains. And we have become accustomed, we have become adjusted to our misery.”
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. People are never satisfied with their own situation; they always think others have it better.