An Eastern Tale often retold by the Theologian and Iconographer Photis Kontoglu.
Once upon a time there was a Sultan who was good and just. This Sultan had a Vizier (Chief adviser) who was also good and just. The Vizier also happened to be an astrologer. One day the Vizier said to the Sultan he had seen a sign in the heavens which said that it was going to rain “crazy” water, and whosoever drinks from that water will become crazy. All the people in the land will drink from that water and they will lose their reasoning, they will no longer have a good sense of anything, they will not be able to tell right from wrong, nor truth from falsehood, nor sweet from sour, not even justice from injustice.
When the Sultan heard this he turned to the Vizier and said, “Since everybody will lose their minds we must take care not to lose ours, for otherwise how will we make just judgments?” The Vizier told him that he was quite right and that he should order that the good water they now drank was collected and kept in special reservoirs, so that they wouldn’t drink from the ruined water and make crazy and unjust judgments, but rather just ones, as they were obliged to. That is what happened.
A little while later it really did rain, and the rain that came down really was crazy water, and the people really did become crazy. The poor things no longer had any idea of what was happening to them. They thought that falsehood was truth, good was bad, and injustice was justice. However, the Sultan and his Vizier drank from the good water which they had stored away and so did not lose their reasoning, but rather judged everybody with justice and righteousness. However everybody took this the wrong way, and they were not pleased with the Sultan’s and the Vizier’s judgments. They shouted that they had been wronged, they nearly caused a revolution.
Some time later, when they had seen more than enough, the Sultan and the Vizier lost their courage, and the Sultan said to the Vizier, “Those poor fellows really have lost their minds, and they see everything the wrong way around. If we carry on like this they will kill us because we want to judge them correctly with justice. Therefore my dear Vizier, let’s throw away the good water and let us also drink the crazy water. We will become like them and then they’ll understand us and they’ll love us again.” That’s what happened. They also drank from the crazy water, they lost their minds and started to make crazy and unjust judgments, and all the people were happy and congratulated the Sultan for his wisdom.
Kontoglu also commented “Let us not throw away the small amount of water that we have still kept in the reservoir of tradition. Let us rather drink from this good water, and let us call others to drink from it… Let them drink and be refreshed by the water that flows from the rock, from our good and immortal water, from the “water of life.”
© The CyberDesert™ 1997, 1998 by Marina M.Robb