Woman offering a man a plate of food

Are you a Stockpiler or a Sharer?

April 11, 2022
by ChristinaV | For Seniors

Are you a Stockpiler or a Sharer?

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Years ago, when I was working as an ER nurse, I attended a mandatory in-service designed to enhance cooperation and productivity in the workforce.  The trainer told a story entitled, Stone Soup.  Most of my southern coworkers had all heard the story in one version or another, but being from New England, I never had.  The story went something like this.

Once upon a time there was a great famine throughout the land and not enough food to go around.  One village was particularly bad off.  There was not enough food to eat, nor enough to put away for the winter months and families began to hoard whatever meager supplies they had from their friends, neighbors, and distant relatives.

One day a wandering tradesman came into town.  He asked the townspeople that he met where he could spend the night and get a bite to eat and was told by everyone to move on because there was no food to be had anywhere in their village.

“That is fine,” said the salesman, “I will make you all some stone soup for supper.”  He pulled a large black cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and lit a fire beneath it.  As the water began to boil, the tradesman pulled a grey rock from his wagon and dropped it into the boiling water, sniffing the pot and licking his lips while he stirred.

The villagers were intrigued and slowly gathered around the boiling pot.  The salesman continued to stir, sniffing all the while, and said, “Even though stone soup is delicious, a little cabbage would make it taste even better.”  One of the villagers quickly ran home and returned with a small cabbage from his garden.  “This is wonderful!” stated the traveler as he cut up the cabbage into small pieces and added it to the soup.  “But imagine how much better it would be with a couple of carrots,” and another villager ran home to fetch some small dry carrots left from his garden, which were promptly cut up into the soup.

This process continued with the traveler imagining how great the soup would be with a couple of potatoes, a little onion, celery, salt, beef, poultry, etc., and the townspeople running home, one by one, to retrieve the food items.  The village butcher even found some scraps from his butcher shop to contribute to the soup.  Soon the most delicious aroma began to emanate from the pot, and everyone enjoyed a bowl of the delicious, nourishing soup.

While it is a human tendency to want to hoard in times of need, whether it be food, love, shelter, etc., and to put all of our energy into self-preservation; by doing so, we actually isolate ourselves and others and make everyone worse off by stockpiling our reserves.

Stone Soup is a European folk story in which a hungry stranger with a “magic” stone convinces inhabitants of a starving village to each share a small amount of the little food they had in order to make a meal for everyone.  The story not only teaches the value of sharing so that “from little can come much,” but also that more can be accomplished when people work together. 

Are you like the villagers holding back, or do you willingly step forward to share what you have with others in times of need?  If you come forward and share your gifts, you will inspire others to do the same and the reward can benefit many.

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