The Red and White Coat

I subscribe to the weekly stories from Philosophy Works. When I feel they are particularly pertinent, they will be reposted here. Given the current political climate, this one is particularly insightful.


The Red and White Coat

Once there were two boys who were great friends, and they were determined to remain that way forever. When they grew up and got married, they built their houses facing one another. There was a small path that formed a border between their farms.

One day, a trickster from the village decided to play a trick on them. He dressed himself in a two-color coat that was divided down the middle. So, one side of the coat was red, and the other side was white.

The trickster wore this coat and walked along the narrow path between the houses of the two friends. They were each working opposite each other in their fields. The trickster made enough noise as he passed them to make sure that each of them would look up and see him passing.

At the end of the day, one friend said to the other, “Wasn’t that a beautiful red coat that man was wearing today?”

“No”, the other replied. “It was a white coat.”

“I saw the man clearly as he walked between us!” said the first, “His coat was red.”

“You are wrong!” said the other man, “I saw it too, and it was white.”

“I know what I saw!” insisted the first man. “The coat was red!”

“You don’t know anything,” the second man replied angrily. “It was white!”

They kept arguing about this over and over, insulted each other, and eventually, they began to beat each other and roll around on the ground.

Just then, the trickster returned and faced the two men, who were punching and kicking each other and shouting, “Our friendship is OVER!”

The trickster walked directly in front of them, and showed them his coat. He laughed at their silly fight. The two friends saw his coat was red on one side and white on the other.

The two friends stopped fighting and screamed at the trickster saying, “We have lived side by side like brothers all our lives, and it is all your fault that we are fighting. You have started a fight between us.”

“Don’t blame me for your faults,” replied the trickster. “I did not make you fight. Both of you are wrong, and both of you are right. Yes, what each one of you saw was true. You are fighting because you want to beat the other into believing what you saw rather than listen to what they saw.”

Moral: You can’t force someone to see what you see. There are much better ways to go about achieving this.

It is better to extend an open hand rather than swing a closed fist.

A story from Africa


The School of Practical Philosophy | 12 East 79th Street | New York | NY | 10075

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About Jamie

Retired Writer Editor - Loves Books, Musical Theater, politics for a good argument, genealogy, Scotland and owls
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