The Moral Tales That Have Helped My Life

It is my belief that moral reasoning is an art rather than a science.  This means that one must seek to develop their innate sense of beauty, proportion, and meaning before attempting to consistently act with moral purpose.

Above all, one should turn towards their own experience of the world in order to inform their understanding of the whys and wherefores of proper action.  In lieu of experience, however, the tales of others can serve as an aid to one’s understanding.  In this vein, I offer these tales and experiences, which might lend themselves to your own edification.

Tale 1: Spectator

My grandfather once told me a story about his childhood.  He always wanted to play football with his friends, but his mother wouldn’t let him because it was too dangerous.  One day he decided to got to the park with the others, but he had determined not to play, just to watch from the sidelines.  The other boys mocked his timidity, but he insisted that he had his orders from above.

As it would happen, someone was driven into him while he stood there watching and his leg was broken.  While being carried home by a policeman, the only thought on his mind was this: “Mother, while I may have been injured, cheer up, because I did not disobey you, I did not play.”  His mother laughed ironically when she heard this, and she still punished him.

Moral: If you are standing on the sidelines you cannot win or lose, but you can still get hurt and you will certainly be judged.

Tale 2: Narcissism


I woke up to a tragedy one day.  I saw on the news that a massive earthquake had shook Chile and would go on to threaten tsunamis for the surrounding coastal regions and far-off littorals.  I watched for a bit and then decided that I should eat something.  I began to prepare my breakfast and came back to the TV to watch some more, hoping to feel something that would remind that I had a connection to these people who were suffering.  I did not feel sad or distraught, I did not feel like helping, nor did I feel hopeful that others would help.  I was enervated by the images of rubble; all I felt was indifference.

After some time I heard something, the sound of splashing water coming from the kitchen.  I leapt up to see what it could be.  The coffee maker was jammed and the liquid was spilling everywhere on the counter and floor.  I unplugged the coffee maker and began to consider the clean up, all that bending and wiping and drying, all that effort with no payoff but a return to where I had begun (wanting a cup of coffee).  I cursed the coffee maker.  Before I could clean however, I had to investigate that smell.  Something was burning, and I quickly discovered that it was my toast.  I released the lever and angrily watched the smoking briquettes.

I punched the counter in a rage, then I took a bite of my toast to confirm its bitterness.  I tried to savor its char but I realized at that moment that I hated everyone in Chile for ruining my morning.

Moral: A personal annoyance and momentary delay can be perceived as a greater disaster than the annihilation of distant peoples.

Tale 3: Arrogance

The greatest swimmer in all the lands of ancient Greece once proclaimed that he could conquer the unconquerable, and that he would do so by swimming across the Aegean Sea faster than Odysseus could have contrived.  The people of his city became enamored with the man’s skill at navigating perilous waters without the aid of ship and oar, and so they deemed his proposed feat to be fit for a god, to which they gladly likened him.  His retort was none too humble either, exclaiming, “When you witness my triumph, you will then know of what gods and men are capable.”

On the appointed day of his setting sail for Troy (believing it most fitting for him to swim from Troy to Ithaca in mockery of Odysseus), a storm could be seen over the horizon.  In spite of admonitions from knowing merchants who could see that the season was not ripe for such a venture, the hero reasoned, “If the sea will dictate the manner of my departure now, how shall I ever make a show of conquering her in my return?”  The hero feared too much the passion of his spectators, not enough the unconcern of the sea.

So, the hero departed for Troy to great fanfare and heightened expectation, fearing nothing from the mighty Aegean.  Not even a day had lapsed when the sea began to violently rock his ship.  The man stood confidently at the prow and egged on Poseidon to do his worst.  Before the words finished leaving his mouth, the shipmen watched in horror as he was swept away by a rogue wave.  Being lost in the darkness and confusion of the storm, the captain decided it would be best to leave the man to his own special craft while the rest of them sought refuge.  The next day the ship returned to port, short one man.  The hero had drowned, succumbing to the very forces he presumed to have mastered.

Moral: Nemesis punishes Hubris with Irony as her consort.

Tale 4: Motivation


While extracting a tooth, the dentist accidentally created a gap between two of my molars when he released the tension provided by the bad tooth that was pressing the others together.  Within this gap, food is regularly and painfully lodged.  In order to remove the obstruction, I am forced to floss after every meal.  Whereas I now floss regularly and pay much heed to the taking of my meals, I was before reckless in the caring for my teeth and the filling of my belly.  The painful gap has thus been turned into quite a prize.

Moral: One minor flaw can effect a more perfect whole.

Tale 5: Distinction

In high school, I never used drugs or drank alcohol.  My senior year, I stayed up all night before the last day of school finishing my final term paper.  It was the paper I had placed the most effort into writing and the one I was most proud of producing.  Naturally, I was exhausted during the final school day.  It was a tradition at my school for all seniors to destroy their textbooks and throw them into the middle of the quad area while celebrating and howling like buffoons.  It could be taken for granted that half of these students were either drunk or high on some illegal substance.

Now, I never had a taste for the bacchanalian, and I was tired anyways, so I sat motionless and watched my classmates with lazy eyes.  Of all the students acting out, I was the one approached by the school counselor and accused of being on drugs.  He grabbed my arm and stared at me as if I were the embodiment of everything terrible happening at that moment.  Through gritted teeth he said, “I know what you did, and you’re stupid for doing it.  If I brought you into my office and gave you a drug test right now, do you think you would pass?”

I was shocked more by his aggression than his question, and answered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Of course I would.”  He maintained his grip on my bicep, stared at me for a few more seconds, then thrust my arm away and left.  From the look of him, he walked away before indulging an impulse to punch me in the face.

Moral: Go with the crowd and your reputation is secure; be your own man and you must fight for what you deserve.

Tale 6: Humility

On a number of occasions, I have told people who cared about me that I did not care what they thought about certain decisions of mine.  This brought them to tears, and it caused them to care less about me.

Moral: When asserting your freedom of conscience, use tact if you are offending the affection of others.

Tale 7: Savior


When my brother was young, he saw a yellow jacket caught in a spider’s web.  He wanted to save the frantic insect, but instead of poking it with a stick, he tried to free it with his finger.  My brother was stung for his kindness.

Moral: While helping those in extreme duress, keep a safe distance.

Tale 8: Disease

I spent years making my hands calloused and strong so that they would be fit for use whenever I might need them.  One time I had to demolish a concrete wall with a hammer.  By the end of the day my hand was a bloody mess; I had gotten blisters in between all of the calluses.

Moral: If inoculation leads to false confidence, then it will disease the rest.

Tale 9: Cure

I had previously suffered a knee injury that limited my motion for years.  While hobbling down the stairs one day, I slipped and felt my knee buckle and pop during the fall.  Afterwards my knee swelled and I became frightened that the prior injury would be exacerbated.  When the swelling went down, I discovered that my knee had actually been fixed.

Moral: Hardship can lead to its own cure.

Tale 10: Prudence


A young man read these tales and drew contradictory lessons.  He determined to live in the following ways:

  • To never spectate nor play, but instead to withdraw himself completely
  • To never care enough about his own needs since others were certainly fairing worse
  • To never extend himself beyond his weaknesses for fear of the consequences when grasping too much
  • To use his flaws as an excuse to rest merely with his revealed strengths
  • To never stand out from the group for fear of becoming a target
  • To always tell people what they want to hear so as not to offend them and to stay in their good graces
  • To never offer aid for fear of being dragged into the melee
  • To never rely upon a unique strength when danger is on the fringe
  • To always wait for pains to subside on their own

This man ended in disaster—dying old but with much to regret.  He allowed his fears to rob him of the vigor and passion that make of life something more than merely not dying.

Moral: The key to all moral application is prudence.  You can draw contradictory lessons from most experiences, however the art of moral reasoning is jurisprudence: knowing principles but also knowing when and how to apply them.

Read More: The Lives Of Great Men As Moral Instruction 

52 thoughts on “The Moral Tales That Have Helped My Life”

  1. Easy cliche, being bullied when I was 12 by slightly older kids. My Uncle said fucking pile into them, you’ll probably get your ass kicked but you’ll earn self respect. So I do, and yeah, black eye and bust lip. Pretty fucked up
    5 days later I try again, ass kicked, but less so. Few knots on my head (one I still have aged 35). Week after that, ass kicked again, but not as serious. Just thrown in a dirty brook.
    Week after, one of the lads comes up to me a school bus stop and says “it’s over, no more of this shit” and offers a semi reluctant hand.
    I win

        1. I don’t like that. That is to accept the frame instead of making your own.
          The best way I see is to create a ‘criminal’ organization that is anti-state. Mafia.

        2. You should not fight a fight you cannot win. In a one on one, where he can call reinforcements, you will lose. If a policeman is doing something so blatantly wrong that you are about to die, drop him before he can call reinforcements. If they ever come for the peoples’ guns, one should not answer the door to them, one should be firing from the treeline.
          The other solution is hit their families, which might be part of your suggestion.
          My solution for police, which actually should be an article, is to avoid all contact with them unless absolutely necessary.

        3. There are always ways to acquire forbidden items. 66% of guns in France are illegal.

        4. A good article would be one discouraging police to have any contact with an armed civilian populace. Some guru once said that the best government is a corrupt cleptocratic one that comes to your door once a year to collect taxes and then disappears leaving you alone for the remainder of the year. No one wants a government that is in your face and that runs smoothly. The more dysfunctionate and jammed it is the better. Government in itself creates and builds nothing. Government only taxes, regulates, limits, polices, obscessively micromanages and stifles creativity. It is beta angst uncorked and on steroids. The only thing a government ever builds is a bureaucracy. Government for the sake of government is parasitosis to a civilization. Government never dreamt or planned or built a civilization. Visionaries did that. We the people did that

        5. The police is not a bully, regardless of how you may feel about it.
          If you fight the police, you are actually fighting state power, but in an arena where there is no victory to be found.
          The only arena where you can meet state power and have a chance is the court of law. I have done so, and walked away victorious leaving them with egg on their face an a huge bill to pay.

        6. ‘The police is not a bully, regardless of how you may feel about it.’
          No, man. There is no difference. The difference is that you feel like a part of the bully’s gang, hence you have no sympathy for someone who does not want to conform. You may think you have outgrown the schoolyard, but you haven’t.

        7. I’d say you got that about as wrong as you possibly could. I don’t feel like I’m part of the gang in the least, quite the contrary. But I realize that the police are the forceful arm of the state, not an independent actor, so my retaliation is directed at the head of the entity not the hand. The state is the bully.
          I’m quite sure I have had much worse experiences with police than you have, even without resisting them like you did. I have been picked up and beaten more times than I can count, and I never resisted or gave them lip other than maybe a little humor.
          To give you an example I have been stopped and had half of my perfectly legal possessions confiscated and destroyed by the border guard simply for dressing “wrong”, I have been jailed and told that until I name every one of my friends I will not be let out, I have had fingers broken, ligaments torn and have been beaten black and blue.
          But I pick my battles when possible, and that way I have been able to get compensated for the things they did obviously wrong.

        8. Alright, I apologize for my insinuation. You have obviously had it worse than me, if this is all true.
          But I still disagree philosophically. The state may have given the orders and set up the law, but the policemen are the people who choose to carry that law out. They could have chosen another job, but they wanted the power and the responsibility. So they also get a part of the blame.
          Besides, there are cops who don’t take the law too strictly serious and then there are cops who actually are just that: Bullies.

        9. I guess I never thought of it that way. A part of me seems to actually believe I should have no gun. Probably shame / guilt / fear issues. Gotta ponder it a little.

        10. Its indoctrination. Making you feel guilty for natural inclinations in or to exploit your guilt and control your actions.
          The occupation has attacked German virility since before the first war.
          Allowing white nationalists in your country to be demonized has exacerbated the problem because it is a divide and conquer tactic.
          Thr tactics of the guerilla, criminal, and spy are the only methods that will work in this situation.
          Let the enemy supply you.

        11. Hardly. I’m a practical realist not a dreamer, I don’t support the way things are or think it’s good, but it is what it is for now. I fight them in court because it’s the only way I know of to win and not get myself fucked in the process.
          I live here in the now, not in a hypothetical tomorrow which might be like I’d want it, and what I said has absolutely nothing to do with how I think things should be.

        12. Sure there are individual police who are assholes and bullies but that to me is a small detail only.
          To me the police and their behavior is a symptom of the state, not a cause, if you jail or kill the bully like police of now, tomorrow there will be new feet in those same boots doing the same thing.
          In my opinion the best one can do is to try as much as possible to set an example in ones own personal life, but by that I mean a positive example.
          Changes happen all the time although slowly, and if you are an ‘upstanding citizen’ so to say you have a lot more of a voice and power in how things are done than if you are seen as a whacko or criminal.
          My police related experiences are true but also happened a long time ago, I don’t get into the kind of situations that got me in negative contact with police anymore since 15yrs and they all happened in a different country from where I now live.
          Because of my current reputation I can get good jobs, I have a lot more freedom than before, heck I could go and get a gun permit and it would pass with flying colors, and I’m in one of the strictest countries in Europe.

        13. ‘Sure there are individual police who are assholes and bullies but that to me is a small detail only.
          To me the police and their behavior is a symptom of the state, not a cause’
          I don’t agree with the distinction. The two work together. Think like this: If no one wanted to be a policeman or politician, there would be no state.
          As for the rest of what you write, yeah, I get the pragmatical reasoning behind it. And I partly agree with it. But another part of me thinks: Fuck that shit. I don’t even care about society, much less about being an upstanding citizen. Is the power worth ‘betraying’ my self? Partly yes, I guess. Partly no.

      1. I was the only male in my department who would return insults and then some to those loud fat female bullies. When my female supervisor predictably objected to how I handled the situation I would remind her that those bullies were her close friends and that they were creating a hostile work environment because they had her approval, if not her encouragement, to do so.

        1. Dude when you return insults you get down to their level, is better to just be polite but speak in an assertive way. This way you make them feel bad about themselves because other people in the office are watching and they can easily see who is the better human.

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      2. I got picked on a lot by this kid Ben at this shitty private middle school; he sat across from me on one of those weird desk ‘islands.’ Finally shoved the desks into him, and threw my chair over the desks at him. He got the wind knocked out of him and the chair only clipped him but it scared him away for good. Other battles didn’t end as well, but the savagery deterrence always helped somewhat.

    1. This. I was being bullied in elementary school. I would always cry my way back home until one day my father had enough. He said “If you let those damn kids beat you again, I’ll spank your ass!” At this point the choice was mine. act like a bitch and get my ass beat at school AND at home, or fight back and earn my respect. I chose the latter.

    2. When I was in middle school, these two kids would gang up against me on the playground. They never caused me much harm, but did enough to piss me off. I did quickly realize, however, that they never tried this when it was a fair fight (one on one). During those times, I was absolutely relentless in my attacks–to the point that one of the kids went crying home to mommy and daddy. Although I caught a tongue-lashing from that kid’s father (who refused to listen to my side…at least my parents did when he confronted them), it was worth it. Those two left me the hell alone, especially once I told all our classmates about what a little bitch the one kid was.

    3. I’ll just drop that glorious Catholic French left hook in the face of a disrepectful man there to illustrate your story. Very à propos.

    4. I wish I’d had an uncle like yours.
      My dad’s advice was “if somebody starts a fight with you, you roll yourself into a ball and yell as loud as you can for a teacher”. Faggy doesn’t even begin to describe it…
      Even at the time I knew this advice was terribly wrong, and I never went to that faggy extreme, but I did let myself get walked all over a few times as a result.
      One time I did stand up in the middle of class and actually hit the cunt with a chair, wrestling-style, then walked out of class. I got kicked out of school for a week and punished at home because of it, but when I came back that guy was off my back. In fact, I remember that a couple of years later we’d sometimes trade video games with each other.
      My dad was (and still is) a really supportive and great guy, but when it comes to the idea of standing up for yourself, he was dead wrong. We need to reward boys who defend themselves, not punish them. When I have a kid, if he does the same thing I did, I’m buying him a present.

        1. I know. Him and my mom are the epitome of the “violence-never-solves-anything” mentality. It’s pathetic.
          Thankfully they’ve been great parents in almost every other way.

        2. Despite what they say, they would shed blood to protect you. They would just rather pretend otherwise.

      1. I fully believe that there are people out there who need a massive slap. A lot of people deserve to be assaulted and did something to provoke it. It’s human nature’s way of putting cunt’s back in line.

    5. Same in work situations…. had a boss who was overly critical and corporate… I made a mistake at work. Previously I caved in and he’d walk over me. This time I stood my ground, argued my corner. I was wrong and lost the argument, but the fact that I stood up for myself meant that I felt I had taken some personal control in the situation, and I feared him less. I am my own man.

  2. Of all the students acting out, I was the one approached by the school counselor and accused of being on drugs.

    Moral: If you are standing on the sidelines you cannot win or lose, but you can still get hurt and you will certainly be judged.

    Mix and match morals.

  3. “Moral: If you are standing on the sidelines you cannot win or lose, but you can still get hurt and you will certainly be judged.”
    No “If” about it. You WILL be hurt. Hurt at your own pussy behaviour.
    And you will be judged, by the most hard judge of all – yourself

  4. this article would make for a nice lesson taught to jr high school aged boys. It aint gonna happen, but it would still be nice.

  5. Tale 10: Fortitude. Venture out in the stormy night with your lamp in hand and guide the ships into safe passage like the ancient lighthouse keeper from old.
    Tale 11: Reticent: Few words are better than many as in the morale of the clerk who throw himself into a trash can when he mistook himself for a post-it.
    Tale 12: Anger: Be aware that it’s a route into your soul and majestic and normally impossible feats are achievable to the man who knows how to ride this wild river.

  6. I’ve only read #1 and that sounds like typical female behavior raising a child. The poor kid did what he was told and still got punished. Such leadership and flimsy, goalpost moving rules, lead to low intelligence.

  7. Tale 5: Distinction
    Fuuuuuck I’ve got a similar and worse story.
    “Moral: Go with the crowd and your reputation is secure; be your own man and you must fight for what you deserve.”
    Crushingly true.

  8. A well written and brilliant article with depth and wisdom.
    Keep up the good work friend.

  9. Tale 7: Whenever a ho’ hurts you , while you’re “trying to save her”…there is always a spider (or, ROK reader) laughing…😊

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