By Paulo Coelho
Fruit was very scarce in the desert. God summoned one of his prophets and said:
‘Each person should be allowed to eat only one piece of fruit a day.’
The custom was obeyed for generations, and the ecology of the area was preserved. Since the uneaten fruit bore seeds, other trees grew up. Soon that whole region became very fertile, the envy of other cities.
However, faithful to the order an ancient prophet had passed on to their ancestors, the people continued to eat only one piece of fruit a day. Moreover, they would not allow the inhabitants of other towns to enjoy each year’s abundant crop of fruit. The result: the fruit rotted on the ground.
God summoned a new prophet and said:
‘Let them eat as much fruit as they like, and ask them to share out the surplus with their neighbours.’
The prophet arrived in the city with this new message, but so deeply rooted was the custom in their hearts and minds, that the city’s inhabitants stoned him.
As time passed, the young people began to question this barbarous custom, but since the traditions of the elders were untouchable, they decided instead to abandon their religion. That way they could eat as much fruit as they liked and give the rest to those who needed it.
The only people who continued to attend the local church believed themselves to be most holy. In fact, they were merely incapable of seeing that the world changes and that we must change with it.
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