The Handful of Mud

Reading...  little story 
Richard liked to play with his friend Peter. They were neighbours and were about the same age. They would always jump the fence that separated their homes and play at each other's house.

From time to time, as is natural among children, they would have a disagreement and spend a few days not talking. But both were happiest only when together.

One day, they had a big fight and Peter said a few bad words to Richard.
- Dirty Mouth! - shouted Richard.

Then, full of anger, and still not happy with the response he gave to his friend, Richard searched the ground looking for something to beat Peter with but found nothing.

However, as it had rained the day before, there was still mud in the backyard. So Richard grabbed a handful of mud and was preparing to throw it at his neighbour.

At that point, Richard's mother, from the kitchen door, saw what he meant to do, and ran into the yard.
- My child, what are you doing?
The boy looked at his mother, then to his hands and said:

- I was going to throw mud at Peter! … He swore very ugly words at me, Mum!

The mother came close to the child and considered:

- And you'll be happier throwing mud at him?

- Ah … At least, he'll be very dirty! ...
The mother looked at her son, and asked:

- My son, dirt for dirt, look at your hands! … Do you realize that you got dirty first, Richard?

The boy looked at his muddy hands, amazed, as if just now noticing.

- But he swore at me, Mum!
- I know, son, but when Peter swore at you, those words before reaching you, left his own mouth all
dirty. Furthermore, you replied too!
The boy's mother was thoughtful and continued:

- When we wrong someone, my son, we wrong ourselves first.

- It's true. My hands are dirty and I did not even throw mud at Peter. So what should I do, Mum?

She stroke her son's head kindly and said:

- Think. What is the best course of action?

The boy thought and thought and then seemed to have found the solution: If by hurting someone I hurt myself first, then if I do good, the same will happen. I will be the first to benefit from it! ...

Then Richard looked at his hands and saw that the mud was hardening. He ran to the garden tap and washed them well. He looked around and saw Peter who, on the other side, was wide-eyed waiting for his reaction.

He went where his neighbour was and surprised him by saying:

- Peter, fighting is ugly and does not solve the situation. Instead, we both get lonely and do not have anyone to play with.

The other, ashamed of what he had done, replied:

- I should not have scolded you, Richard. Before I knew, I had already said it. I apologize.

Richard heard the neighbour and admitted:

- I was wrong, Peter. I called you a dirty mouth and wanted to get you dirty with mud. I am glad I did not throw it! I learned from my mother that when we desire evil for our neighbour, we are the first to be hit.

Richard extended his hand to the other and said:

- Friends?

- Friends!

Both, very pleased, went to tell Richard's mother that they had made their peace.

The lady smiled and hugged them both.

- Making peace is the best thing. Preserve your friendship and you will never be sorry.

The boys hugged and promised that they would never fight again.

Richard and Peter grew up, changed school, went to college, but never forgot that lesson.

And through life, each time a disagreement with someone came up, the problem would be resolved through dialogue, understanding, tolerance and peace.


(Message received by Celia Xavier de Camargo on 02/21/2011.)

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