Lessons from Myths, Legends and Fairy TalesMusings

Lesson from Myths, Legends and Fairytales: Part 3 – The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

In Aesop’s Fables, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, a young shepherd boy is sent to tender sheep near a dark forest not far from the village. He finds his days long and lonely with no one talk to and nothing to do. And so he decides to “cry wolf” so that people will come and he would have lots of people to talk to and have fun with. He does that twice and on the third occasion, nobody comes and well, we all know how that ended.

For many people, the moral of this is story is that liars will not be rewarded, even if they then tell the truth, no one will believe them. It is a cautionary tale for all children to stay away from lies, stressing the importance of speaking the truth. That the shepherd boy learnt a lesson about honesty, that if you want people to believe and trust what you say, you should always be truthful.

And yes, I do get all of the above but what I question in this story is this:
The boy child is obviously lonely and seeking attention and quite honestly, why does he need to go to such lengths to be heard in the first place?

Perhaps he does “cry wolf” for attention or merely as a childish prank — but either way, he learns his lesson in the end when a real wolf arrives and nobody comes to rescue him. But really, what sort of message are we sending to our children here?

There seems to be a prevailing attitude that “children should be seen and not heard” that is still hard-wired into our folklore. Around the world, our youth are ignored and neglected, their opinions disregarded, with the assumption that adults know best.

The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child Article 12, states that children have the right to be heard and have the right to freedom of expression. Yet, many children are still not included in discussions about issues that affect them.

This needs to change.

We need to start listening to our youth – really listening.

Understanding relationships between generations lies at the heart of society’s contemporary dilemmas. When we bring young people into our conversations and deliberations, they remind us of our role as ancestors, they hold the moral authority to speak on behalf of future generations.

Our world is in need of both the experience and knowledge of our ancestors, and the energy and social mindedness of today’s youth. Our relationship with younger and older generations is good for health, good for families, good for communities and good for society.

In this fable, ignoring the child means the flock is besieged, and the message I take from this is: ignore the youth at our own peril.

It is time to listen to young voices.


(Image by Scott Gustfson on Pintrest)