Once upon a time, someone cornered Uru with exactly your question.

“Here’s what I think,” Uru said. “I think people should always do things that are fat but never do things that are thin.”

“I don’t understand,” the other said. “What does fat and thin have to do with it?”

“Well, you asked me what I think, and this is what I think.”

“But in these terms, was the Holocaust fat or thin?”

“Oh, it was horribly thin.”

“This makes no sense to me at all,” the other said. “How do you know it was thin?”

“Because it was one of the most disgraceful episodes in human history.”

“I’m afraid this still makes no sense.”

“Maybe some other examples will help. Do you think capital punishment is fat or thin?”

“To be honest, I have no idea. I think it’s totally absurd to consider the matter in these terms.”

“But in your personal life, surely you try to do things that are fat and avoid doing things that are thin. For example, you’d never go up to a perfect stranger and slap him in the face, because you know this would be thin.”

“The fact that it would be thin would have nothing to do with it.”

Uru nodded. “This is exactly the way I think about your terms, right and wrong. They’re as meaningless to me as fat and thin are to you. I would no more ask myself whether a contemplated action is right or wrong than you would ask yourself whether it’s fat or thin.”

Click here for more parables featuring Uru on this website.

ID: 435
posted: 26 Sep 1999