There was once a family who needed a barn. They enlisted the help of their neighbors, who came with hammers and saws. It took a few days for the number to frame it out and erect a lovely barn. They celebrated in its shade with a barbeque and lots of good food and fellowship.
As time went on, the barn weathered storms, blistering heat, and snow. Animals were born under its roof. Hay was stored. Livestock found shelter within its walls.
One animal in the barnyard was a donkey, an angry, furious animal, always dissatisfied with its world. It brayed at food, balked at its owner’s gentle touch, and kicked at the air for no reason.
The farmer, determined to calm the animal and to change its temperament gave the donkey tender care. Bites of apples, grain, a good rubdown, the donkey responded to nothing; and, continued his contrary behaviors. No matter how benevolent the farmer was, the donkey never responded with anything but loathing.
One night, a huge storm was brewing. The farmer and his family could see the ominous clouds moving their direction, full of lightning and fury. The farmer rushed to get the animals into the safety of the barn. The frightened animals scurried inside, each to their own particular nesting area. Last to go in was the unrelenting donkey. Despite the threatening clouds, the smell of ozone created by lightning strikes, and the threat of tornadoes, the stubborn donkey ran and kicked, brayed and bucked. By the time he got the animal into the barn, the farmer was bruised and cut. The donkey bellowed its discontent with rapid hee-haws. The other animals moved away from its nasty disposition and hunkered down for the blustery night.
Inside the farmhouse, the family took shelter in the basement as the unrelenting wind blew. Thunder shook the foundation of the house and rain bombarded the farm. After a long night of worry, the noise of the storm quieted and the family fell asleep.
Before he could rest, though, the farmer needed to check on the animals. Most had bedded down and were slumbering. They were cooing, breathing deeply, and the old dog was even snoring. Their night-time noises calmed the farmer’s apprehension. He took a look at the old barn, noting that the roof was fine, the structure was sound, just as he expected. It was well-built. As he exited, the donkey eyed the farmer maliciously, but did not make a sound. The farmer sighed in response then turned in. He was thankful that the storm had spared his farm from damage.
Chores began after breakfast which was served soon after dawn. Just as he was walking outside, to his horror, the farmer saw the east side of his beautiful barn start to buckle. “What could have happened?” he thought. “The night before the barn was fine.”
Chickens ran out of an opening created by the loss of structural integrity. The farmer ran to uphold the failing east side, as he began to notice the loud pounding sound accompanied by coarse hee-hawing. As he tried to prop up the east wall with a long two-by-four, the larger animals ran out the barn doors, flung open by the bending structure. Braying, pounding, and kicking continued. The farmer began to realize that he would not be able to save the barn because it was crumbling from within.
A masterpiece of annihilation, the donkey raged in a destructive fit unlike any it had ever had before. The ass kicked at the load bearing poles inside the structure, when kicking the walls had produced no result. Gleefully, it ran out as the last of the lumber fell behind it, giving a celebration buck and kick once it was free from harm. Eying hay scattered by the wind of the barn’s demolition, the donkey began to graze on a delicious breakfast, seemingly indifferent to the commotion it had created.
Helpless in stopping the raging animal’s fury, the farmer had to duck and run from the falling wood. The crashing noise seized his breath; and, shock paralyzed his ability to do anything but stare in disbelief.
The sun shone brightly denying the storm of the previous night. Golden rays filtered through the old oak tree, revealing a yellow haze of hay particles and dust floating in the air. The farmer slowly removed his hat and scratched his head, wondering how after surviving a night of fierce storms that his barn had succumbed to the ravages of one, single donkey.
A neighbor, whose morning was disturbed by the clamor of the animals and the reverberation of the collapsing barn, ran over just in time to see the last bit fall. Knowing the pain his friend must be feeling, he walked up and put his hand on the farmer’s shoulder. He stood, astonished, thinking that the storm must have damaged the barn the night before, so that it finally fell on this beautiful morning. The neighbor stood by his friend and gave tacit comfort.
Gulping hard and calming himself, the farmer slowly looked at his neighbor in disbelief. His voice trembling, he asked, “Do you remember how much time and effort, how many people it took to build this barn?” The neighbor nodded yes, thinking of how he had helped put up the south side wall. The farmer continued, “Well, it only took one jackass to tear it down.”
It takes time, effort, and hard work to build a good life; but, it only takes one jackass to kick it down. Don’t let a jackass into your barn.
(Image by: Flickr User zenjazzygeek)