Robert L. Peters

18 May 2012

Wind vs. Sun

I don’t recall my exact age at the time, but I know I was very young when I first heard Æsop’s fable of the Wind & Sun from my pacifist father (a gentle but firm man who served as a conscientious objector during the Second World War). The simple tale offered a compelling allegory re: the “exercise of power” that has stuck with me throughout my life (and may also bear more literal responsibility for my ongoing interest in passive solar energy). The gist of the parable goes like this…

Once upon a time, high in the heavens, a dispute arose between the Wind and the Sun as to which was the more powerful of the two. The Wind (always a blow-hard) challenged the Sun to a contest that could resolve once and for all who was the stronger. Looking down, the two could see a lone Traveler making his way across the land—it was agreed that whichever would be the first to strip the man of his cloak should be accounted the victor.

The Wind began, and blew with all its might with blasts as cold and fierce as a Thracian storm; but (of course) the stronger and more furiously the Wind blew, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, and the more tightly he grasped it with his hands. Finally, exhausted, the Wind gave up in despair.

Then the Sun (which had been hiding behind a cloud) came out and simply shone with warmth and brightness—in almost no time at all the Traveler felt the genial warmth, took off his cloak, and cast it on the ground.

Thus the Sun was declared the victor, and it has ever since been deemed that “persuasion is better than force”—and the sunshine of a kind and gentle manner is more efficacious than the force of blustering authority.

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