There once was a man who was perfectly happy. He desired nothing more in his life because he had everything he needed to be perfectly and absolutely happy. He had the best friends in the world, the best career, the best wife and the best children. He had no money troubles, no car troubles, and not even digestion troubles. He was completely happy and had never experienced sickness in his life. His house was always in tip-top shape, his company’s stock never plummeted, and his country never experienced wars or famines or natural disasters.
One day he said to himself, “I am so perfectly happy that I wish to share my happy life with others. Is that not to be expected? If we are happy, we do not wish to keep our happiness to ourselves. We want to share it. When we find a new restaurant which serves the best food, we naturally want to tell people about it. When we discover an exciting new hobby, we want people to try it. And so on.”
His wife and children also had this desire because they were all of one mind.
So this man, together with his wife and children, proceeded to plant a garden filled with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, flowers, shrubs, vines and trees. He was a very good gardener, and as a result the plants thrived. He saw that the plants were perfectly happy and healthy, and he was glad.
Later, he adopted pet dogs and cats and goldfishes and turtles and bunnies and other animals, and gave them the best life possible for them. He saw that the animals were perfectly happy and healthy, and he was glad.
Then one day he said to himself, “I wish to share more of my life, not just a happy and healthy existence like what the plants and the animals have, but also the more profound aspects of my existence like my delight in you, wife, and in you, my children, for you and I can communicate intelligent ideas and deep emotions. You and I can share interests and activities, unlike the plants and the animals who can only share some. In other words, I would like to share my life with those who can participate in it fully.
His wife and children also had this desire because they were all of one mind.
So he adopted those who came from other countries who were not fortunate enough to share his good life. He gave them everything they needed, and he delighted in them when he saw that they lived a happy and healthy life. These people lived in the man’s house, ate the man’s food, drove the man’s car, enjoyed the man’s plants, played with the man’s pets, read the man’s books, spent the man’s money, and many other things. All these the man delighted in.
The man’s wife and children also delighted in their adopted friends because they were all of one mind.
But, since the adopted friends had free will and were capable of thinking for themselves, unlike the plants which stayed put and the animals which never strayed far from where their food bowl was, the man was required to inform them of the law. Thus, he said to them, “You must never step outside the territories of this society, or else you will be put to death according to the laws of this land, and never again be able to experience this life which I had made possible for you.”
Despite this warning, one day, when the adopted friends were walking along the boundary, they thought to themselves, “Why should we stick to the laws of this land? What is wrong with stepping beyond the boundary? What the man said to us is false. He was only joking. We can decide for ourselves what we ought to do and not do. We do not need to be bound by any law.”
But the adopted friends were intelligent. They stopped to think what if the man was not lying and they will indeed be put to death if they disobeyed the law. They said to themselves, “What if, indeed? Should we dare to disobey?”
Despite this warning, they said to themselves, “Even if the man was right in saying that stepping beyond the boundary will result in us being put to death, the man will save us. Did he not say that he loves us as much as he loves his wife and children? He will not abandon us even if we stray.”
Thus, with that smug thought in their minds, the adopted friends crossed the boundary. Immediately after they had crossed, the policemen of that society arrived and captured them. Out of respect for the man who loved them, they did not immediately put to death the disobedient adopted friends, but informed the man of what had happened.
The man arrived in tears. He asked his adopted friends, “Why have you disobeyed the law? Is it not enough that I have made my house your house, and my wealth your wealth, and my life your life?”
The adopted friends hid their faces in shame as they replied, “We wanted to decide for ourselves what we ought and ought not to do. We wanted to think that we were not bound by the law.”
The man, again in tears, said to his adopted friends, “Did I not tell you that you are bound by the law?”
The adopted friends, while still hiding their faces in shame, replied, “Save us! You have said many times that you love us, therefore you must save us! Spare us from this law which seeks to put us to death as punishment for our crime.”
“I cannot spare you from this law,” the man said, “for I am the author of this law. I wrote this law because I had in mind the good of all the citizens of this society, and I wished to spare them the hardships and the unhappiness which are present in the other countries. The threat of death should have been enough to discourage disobedience.”
Thereupon the policemen shared their thoughts to the man, “You should have locked them in your house. You should have not given them the freedom to roam outside. In that way, they would never have disobeyed the law.”
But the man replied, “They are not my slaves or servants. They are not my pets. They are my friends. It is not consistent with their dignity as my beloved friends that I keep them locked up and unfree.”
So the policemen said, “What should we do? They are guilty, and the law is the law. Death is owed for the crime committed.”
“Put one of us to death!” cried the adopted friends. “Surely one death is enough for our crime.”
“Why would it be enough?” asked the policemen. “You are all guilty of the same crime. Why should one guilty man be put to death while the rest of the guilty ones be allowed to live? Only the death of an innocent man is sufficient to cancel out your crimes. Who will suffer such a death for you, foul and arrogant criminals?”
And immediately the man stepped forward.
The policemen cried in horror, “But why would you choose to die for such foul creatures?”
The man replied, “Because I love them and I wish them to live instead of die.”
Still, the policemen remained horrified. They said, “Ask one of your servants to die instead. You are good and beloved in our society, hence many love you and will gladly do whatever you ask of them, even to die.”
“No,” said the man. “It is I who must die to prove to these criminals how great my love is, and to help deepen their love for me. If I send someone in my stead, they will not love me as much, for they will think I can keep sending my innumerable servants to die for them. What is a penny to a millionaire? It means nothing to him, but if he were to give up all his money, then it would mean something. Thus, if I die for them, I who gave them life and happiness, all the more will they feel the weight of their crime, and all the more will they seek to be worthy of my sacrifice.”
The man’s wife and children also agreed to this because they were all of one mind.
So the policeman let go of the guilty ones, and placed their shackles on the innocent man. They said to the adopted friends, “Look at this man, you disobedient creatures. This man has given you life, yet you did not value it. Instead, you chose death. Despite that, this man who loves you wishes to spare you from death. Do not feel smug. Do not think that you are owed this. An innocent man owes a guilty man nothing.”
Then the policemen said, “According to the laws of our society, before death, each criminal is to be tortured and humiliated, and given a slow and painful death. Since this man is to take the punishment of the guilty, the level of torture and humiliation he must receive, and the slowness and painfulness of the death he must experience, must be as many times as the number of the guilty ones.”
Then the policemen turned to the man, “Are you willing to undergo this?”
The man replied, “I am.”
Thus the policemen, in obedience to the laws of the land, proceeded to torture and humiliate the man, and to give him a slow and painful death. And to make the punishment fit the crime, the level of pain given was multiplied as many times as the number of the guilty ones.