“Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need most” - American Proverb
Should you lend money to friends and family? Let me share two stories to answer this.
The Herder and his Camel
(a story I read in primary school)
There once was a camel herder crossing the desert with his camel. As the night approached, he started pitching his tiny tent to protect him from the cold and get some sleep.
As he was preparing to sleep, the camel asked him, “Master, Master can I put one foot inside your tent so that I can feel some warmth as it is very cold outside.” The herder agreed and the camel felt good, feeling the warmth on his foot.
After some time, the camel asked, “Master, Master can I put my whole leg inside the tent so that I can feel some warmth as it is very cold outside.” The herder agreed and once again, the camel felt good, feeling the warmth on his whole leg.
Again, after some time, the camel asked, “Master, Master can I put both legs and head inside the tent so that I can feel some warmth as it is very cold outside.” The herder, being annoyed that his sleep was being disturbed, irritatingly agreed and once again, the camel felt good, feeling the warmth on his head and front legs.
Yet again, after some time, the camel asked, “Master, Master can I put my whole trunk inside the tent so that I can feel some warmth as it is very cold outside.” The herder, being now squeezed inside his small tent, but feeling guilty that the camel is suffering, reluctantly agreed. Once again, the camel felt good, feeling the warmth on most of his body, save for his hind legs.
Finally, during the coldest part of the night, the camel, being so comfortable inside the tent, brought his hind legs inside and kicked out his master, leaving the herder out in the cold and embittered by the experience.
The moral of the story: Beware of moochers (a person who lives off others without giving anything in return); Be clear with your boundaries.
The Ox and the Donkey
(an extract from The Richest Man in Babylon by G.S. Clason)
One evening, after a hard day’s work, an ox complained to his friend donkey about how hard his work was. He said “I envy you, Donkey, because all you have to do is travel once a day to the market and have a leisurely afternoon afterward. Whereas I have to plow the fields all day with that heavy yoke over my neck while being whipped if I am too slow.” Donkey felt bad for his friend and said, “Why don’t you pretend to be sick tomorrow morning? That way, you will have the entire day without having to work?”
The following morning the ox did as the donkey suggested. When the farmer came to hitch the yoke on him, he pretended to be sick. The farmer was left with no choice but to hitch the yoke onto the donkey. After all, the field still needs to be plowed.
That evening, the Donkey came back to the stable, all bruised and tired, and laid down. Ox happily walked towards him and said, “thank you for your suggestion; I had a very relaxed day. I will pretend to be sick again tomorrow.” Being embittered by his experience, Donkey lied to the ox and said, “I heard the master talking to the butcher. He said that if you were sick again tomorrow, he would give you to him for slaughtering. As for me, I believe you deserve it because you are a lazy animal.” After that conversation, they stopped being friends.
The moral of the story: If you desire to help your friend, do so in a way that will not bring your friend’s burdens upon you.