By Chandrè Wertheim Aymes
Once upon a time there was a king who had 3 daughters. These 3 daughters were constantly blaming each other for all the wrongs in the world and this was very unpleasant for anyone to live with.
The eldest daughter, Princess Elaine, had an imagination that filled up with ideas wherever she went, she was awake to the world and could take in consciously so much from what she observed in her daily walks. In general, her ideas were good. In her walks through the town that adjoined the palace Princess Elaine noticed that the trades people and merchants all seemed to congregate in the same streets. For instance, Shoe Street was the street where all the shoemakers had their shops or stalls. Bread street was where the bakers all congregated. The princess needed a new pair of shoes and so set off down Shoe Street to find out what was on offer. Every shoe maker had the same types of shoes on offer and they all looked to be of a similar quality, so she started asking each shoe maker why she should buy their shoes rather than their neighbours or the one further down the street.
None could give an insightful answer. The princess went back to the palace with a thoughtful demeanour. The next day she invited all the shoemakers to tea. Once everyone was gathered, she described her experience of the previous day and then asked the question: “Why doesn’t each shoemaker specialise in a particular type of shoe and become the best manufacturer of quality shoes of a particular type, e.g., boots, dancing shoes, sandals, etc. Each shoemaker would also then stock in their shop the accessories for their particular type of shoe. After much thought and discussion the shoemakers decided to try this out and each shoemaker chose to manufacture only a certain type of shoe that they agreed upon amongst themselves.
Of course, each shoemaker in general chose the type of shoe they enjoyed making the most. The experiment turned out to be a success and Shoe Street became a busy street with customers coming from all over the kingdom and beyond to purchase the best shoes in the land. If the reader has any imagination they can begin to feel how whole new industries and services would grow out of the success of this one street. And, of course, the other trades and merchants once they saw how successful the informal Shoemakers arrangement was, they also met and started to make similar arrangements amongst themselves and the town grew into a city known for it’s quality and variety of products. And for a while all was good.
The middle daughter, Princess Faria, had a passion for fairness. It upset her dearly when she observed people taking advantage of others for whatever reason. When her father the King sat as facilitator or in judgement of the laws of the Kingdom, Princess Faria was always in attendance and would speak out with passion when she thought her father was being biased in favour of a particular plaintiff or complainant. Human nature being what it is, the growth of the surrounding town to city and the success of the tradesmen and merchants became an area that particularly began to vex the princess as the cases that increasingly came before her father were between the tradesmen and merchants themselves complaining that one was cheating the other or that an agreement made verbally in good faith was now being reinterpreted in favour of the most dominant or most influential person. Or worst of all when she heard about how the Bakers would only allow family members to apprentice into their trade. It even began to get ugly at times when individuals would threaten each other with violence or vandalism to property. Princess Faria blamed her older sister for what was happening in the courts and on the streets.
The youngest princess, Princess Lila, was the gentlest of all the sisters and it was she who saw the goodness in people. Her older sisters called her naïve and stupid as she never saw bad in people. This vexed Princess Faria the most who was so sensitive to the inequities she observed happening daily. If you wanted to find Princess Lila you only had to look in the school or the hospice or even the dungeons to find her for Princess Lila would always be found where people needed care. She would visit the poorest of the poor in the city taking food parcels and medicines to those in need. Princess Lila would weep when her sister’s teased her or called her naïve.
Between the untrammelled ideas continuously pouring out of Princess Elaine’s imagination and the vexatious tantrums of Princess Faria brought on by the unfairness all around her and the weeping of gentle Princess Lila, the King decided that something had to be done to bring some harmony amongst his daughters. And so, he sent out a proclamation far and wide stating that any 3 men that together could bring harmony amongst his daughters would have their hand in marriage.
In a small village tavern on the outskirts of the kingdom sat 3 friends who had grown up together and knew each other intimately and trusted each other with their lives. Each was very different to the other but together they were able to work wisely because of this trust and understanding between each other.
Eric had a good head for business and though he came from poor circumstances he had managed through hard-work and sacrifice to save enough money to buy a cart and team. This he used to transport goods. He also had a good eye for quality and could bargain as if he were born in the Eastern lands. As a consequence of his travels transporting goods all over the kingdom and sometimes beyond, he had a broad knowledge of where the best quality materials could be sourced for various needs and he was about to start exploiting this knowledge himself by using the little bit of savings he had accumulated from his business to start buying and selling on a small scale to the tradesmen and merchants of the city.
Fabian had a good eye for needs. When Eric described the challenges of being on the road, Fabian could picture the difference that well maintained roads would make to the transporters. The village where they lived had a natural lake above it in the mountains and Fabian brought the idea to the village of creating a canal from the lake to the village and then creating smaller canals through the village so that each property in the village could have access to clean running water.
Luke it was that knew that the strengths and ideas that lived in his friends were special, not earthly, natural talents but a grace given to each human being according to who they are. Luke nurtured this knowledge in his heart and gave thanks for it daily.
When the friends eventually heard about the king’s proclamation, they puzzled over the challenge together for many evenings, not because they wanted to win the hands of the princesses but because it was an interesting challenge and they had a sense of the goodness that could come out of creating a harmony between what appeared to be conflict.
It was Luke who provided the first clue when he said: “The success of the trades people and merchants in the city is only possible because of the skills, the experience, the patience, the clarity, the objectivity, the positivity, the courage, the love, the self-accountability, the diligence, the openness and selflessness they have. These qualities can only be practised by the human being awake to themselves as human beings. In the same manner the conflicts, unfairness and inequities that are arising as a consequence of the wealth and success of the businesses are arising out of lack of skill, lack of experience, haste, doubt, fantasy, negativity, fear, hate or dislike, blame, laziness, prejudice and self-indulgence that arises where human beings go to sleep or indulge their natures. If one looks at any circumstance in the world it is easy to see where the success and harmony arises out of the human being and where the failure and disharmony arises if one recognises that it is ‘I’ who is my environment. Out of this insight, the friends could recognise immediately their own strengths and talents and then of course see the strengths and talents of the 3 princesses and how harmony was possible.
Let the business people have ideas and specialise in creating the best material needs for the people. This is where the material wealth is created.
Let those who dislike inequity facilitate the law-making, the drawing up of contracts and agreements and allow them to spread the material wealth fairly and allocate this wealth fairly to the infrastructural needs of roads, schools, hospitals, utilities, cultural and training centres, etc.
Let those who know the human being, the artists, the teachers, the carers, the cultural/religious leaders remind us and help in training us to be the best at our strengths and develop our weaknesses. There is no material wealth here only wealth of spirit and this needs to be supported by those that create the material wealth out of recognition that it is the source of their ability to create material wealth and be fairly distributed by those who are given the right of distribution.
Together the 3 in harmony within the bond of trust, understanding and knowledge will decide the distribution of material and spiritual wealth for the good of the whole.
And so, the 3 friends travelled off to the King and Princesses on Eric’s cart. On the way they played in conversation with the concepts they had arrived at so far, testing and checking them on different scenarios seeking to find the flaws or missing concepts, seeking the truth. They knew this was just the opportunity of a beginning of something bigger than themselves, something for the whole of humanity to work with down the ages to come.
Did they succeed, marry and live happily ever after? Well that is up to each one of the Princess Elaine, Faria, Lila and Eric, Fabian and Luke that lives in each one of us.
Steiner and members of the Anthroposophical Society tried 100 years ago to bring this picture to humanity. At that time there were not enough human hearts to hear it. Are there enough open human hearts in this time who wish to hear it and work with it? Or is it just a Fairy Tale?