Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Modern Prodigal

Did you hear the story about two brothers?

Once upon a time there were two brothers. One stayed at home, and got on with mundane tasks, scrutinising his father's accounts, but the other was a somewhat flashy individual who wanted to make a name for himself in the world. He asked to take over the running of his father's business, and his father, let him take charge of the accounts. But he was wild and full of the excesses of youth, and some of the servants who worked for the business didn't like the way he treated them, as hired servants, not worthy of respect.

One left abruptly, saying that he was fed up with being hectored and bullied. Another servant, he said was inept at book keeping, and really incompetent. He said this so that when the servant left, he would be in the right, and the servant would not be able to seek compensation. But the other brother was unhappy with the way the younger brother was handling the servants, so he called in a Quaestor to look into the whole sorry mess and report. The Quaestor said that the younger brother had been a bit of a bully, and had wronged one servant by making him our to be incompetent.

Now the younger brother saw that he couldn't carry on the way he had as if nothing had happened, so he set off for home. When he was far off, his father came out to meet him, and greeted him.

And he said to his father, "Father, I am sorry, I have acted badly, I have bullied people, and I have done wrong, and I admit my mistakes. I have learned my lesson. Take pity on me."

Or he would have done, if it was the parable of the prodigal son. But this is the twenty-first century, and modern prodigals aren't quite as contrite. Here's the modern version:

And he said to his father, "Father, I have been misunderstood, and all I ever wanted to do was save money. And I will be vindicated in my decisions in the end. And please don't listen to the Quaestor, because he doesn't understand the difference between challenging servants robustly and bullying. And I've really done nothing wrong, and have no reason to apologise to anyone or say sorry."

And the father said, "Well, everyone is human. And you've been very stressed. Maybe all you need is more quiet talks with me, and better management of your workload."

Because that's how the Prodigal Son is welcomed home nowadays.