The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander
the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler,
no right even to lift a solicitous hand. Yet the Emperor threw him several gold coins. A
courtier was astonished at his generosity and commented, "Sir, copper coins would
adequately meet a beggar's need. Why give him gold?" Alexander responded in royal
fashion, "Cooper coins would suit the beggar's need, but gold coins suit Alexander's
For the past forty years Eunice Pike has worked with the Mazatec Indians in
south-western Mexico. During this time she has discovered some interesting things about
these beautiful people. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that,
they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked,
"Who taught you to bake bread?" the village baker answers, "I just
know," meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone's help. Eunice says this
odd behavior stems from the Indian's concept of "limited good." They believe
there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another
means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love
the first child less. To wish someone well--"Have a good day"--means you have
just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired.
Bernie May, "Learning to Trust," Multnomah Press, 1985.
There were once two young men working their way through Leland Stanford University.
Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to one of them to engage Paderewski for
a piano recital and devote the profits to their board and tuition. The great pianist's
manager asked for a guarantee of two thousand dollars. The students, undaunted, proceeded
to stage the concert. They worked hard, only to find that the concert had raised only
sixteen hundred dollars. After the concert, the students sought the great artist and told
him of their efforts and results. They gave him the entire sixteen hundred dollars, and
accompanied it with a promissory note for four hundred dollars, explaining that they would
earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him. "No,"
replied Paderewski, "that won't do." Then tearing the note to shreds, he
returned the money and said to them: "Now, take out of this sixteen hundred dollars
all of your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work,
and let me have the rest." The years rolled by--years of fortune and destiny.
Paderewski had become premier of Poland. The devastating war came, and Paderewski was
striving with might and main to feed the starving thousands of his beloved Poland. There
was only one man in the world who could help Paderewski and his people. Thousands of tons
of food began to come into Poland for distribution by the Polish premier.
After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank Herbert
Hoover for the relief sent him. "That's all right, Mr. Paderewski," was Mr.
Hoover's reply. "Besides, you don't remember it, but you helped me once when I was a
student at college and I was in a hole."
Edward W. Bok, Perhaps I Am.