Tjuven och persikokärnan

Det finns en global repertoar av pedagogiska och terapeutiska världsbildsberättelser i den folkliga sagoskatten. Berättelser som kan ligga till grund för lärande och utveckling. Även berättelserna om Jesus är sådana. Corporate Storytelling är något annat men…

ibland kan man även i organisationsberättandet ha glädje av dessa, ofta vitt spridda internationella, arketypiska sagor för att se sina egna arbetsvillkor och varumärken. Jag har som storyteller mött sådana i bland annat socialarbetarsammanhang.
Då hämtar man ibland nutida sanna berättelser med liknande moralpoänger som man bygger på i de klassiska sagorna men som nu istället hämtas inne i de egna organisationsverkligheterna.
Jag skördar ibland också dilemmaberättelser, till och med hos Vägverket, för att föra fram och visa olika aspekter i en organisation för att därigenom få fram en tydlig bild som inte beskrivs eller är låst utifrån olika partsintressen utan som beskriver verkliga händelser som man sen tillsammans kan diskutera utifrån.
Hur som helst den här berättelsen om Tjuven och persikokärnan hittade jag på ett berättarforum för kulturarbetarberättare. En fantastiskt plats där man delar med sig och tar emot tips och exempel från andra berättarintresserade av olika sorter.
Berättaren Gunilla Brodin i Mölndal hittade den hos Storytellern Elisa Pearmain i Lincoln, Massachusetts, se längst ned. Gunilla gav denna asiatiska berättelse vidare som en story om kriminalitet. Nu får du den vidare från mig, Organisationsberättaren Matts Heijbel i Grödinge:
Truth in a Peach Seed – A story told in Korea, Japan and China, and in the Jewish tradition ( hittad 2002 på: www. )
Once upon a time in a city, maybe near and maybe far from here, there lived a thief named Han. He had been raised on the streets as an orphan, and there he had learned from the best of the thieves how to steal a loaf of bread, or a piece of fruit for his meal. Han learned to be clever too, living by his wits, and had never been caught.
Then one day he had fallen in love. The young woman loved him too, but required that he reformed his ways, and lived an honest life. Han was glad to do this, but there was first the problem of a wedding ring. He would steal a ring for his beloved, and then start a new life. Unfortunately Han’s desire for the perfect ring, had shrouded his keen instinct for danger, and he was caught. Han was thrown into jail, where he would likely spend his whole life.
Day after day he sat in the jail cell thinking and thinking of how to escape. The walls were strong, and the jailers never left their posts. They didn’t even open his cell, but passed food in to him. Though his mind kept churning for answers, his hope was growing dim.
Then one day as he mulled over his simple lunch, and idea came to him. The prisoners had been given the customary meal of rice, a very small portion of fish and a piece of fruit. Today it was a peach. The peach was delicious, and reminded him of the beautiful peach trees blossoming outside of the city where the rich men lived. Then an idea came to him. He carefully wrapped the peach pit in a piece of cloth and called the guard to him.
”Please tell the head jailer that I must see the Emperor. I have a very important present to give to him.” The guard laughed. But each day Han kept at him until he at last was brought before the Emperor.
”Your highness,” he said bowing very low. ”I have brought a great present to you.” Han handed the Emperor the piece of cloth. The man opened it and turned red with anger. ”How dare you take my time and insult me with a peach pit?” Did you think you would escape somehow? You are a thief, and you belong in jail!”
”Your highness,” Han went on, still bowed low. ”This is no ordinary peach pit that I bring to you. I beg you to listen, for this is a magic peach pit, given to me many years ago. When it is planted it will bear fruit of purest gold.”
”If this is so, why did you not plant it yourself, thief!” scowled the Emperor.
”Ah your Highness, that is the catch.” Han said humbly. ”For the man who gave me this seed told me that it would only yield golden fruit for an honest person who has never stolen or cheated. For those who have, it will give only regular peaches. So as you can see it would be wasted on me, and I have been waiting to find the perfect person to give it to. These many days spent in prison have given me time to realize that you are that person.”
Instead of glowing with excitement the Emperor grew redder than ever. While more honest than most men in high places, he could not help remembering how in his younger days he had once lied, and cheated another men out of his chance for a high ranking position, while he himself had risen in power. ”No, no I couldn’t accept it, ” He murmured into his beard. ”There may have been something in my youth that I no longer remember. I believe it should go to my Prime Minister.”
All eyes turned to the Prime Minister who had also gone red with embarrassment. ”Oh no, I am afraid that I am not the right person either,” He stammered knowing full well that he regularly accepted bribes from people who wished him to influence the Emperor in their favor. ”I suggest the Commander of the Army.”
Then it was the Commander’s turn to blush, and stammer and mumble, for he had even had a man killed once in order to secure his place in the government. He demurred to the governor, who also could not accept the magic seed, as he had grown immensely wealthy on the hard labor of peasants who remained terribly poor.
This went on and on down the line of noble officials who had audience to the Emperor.
Finally there was no one left in the room to take the magic seed, as each had used their position of power to cheat, or steal. The room was silent.
Slowly the Emperor began to smile. ”You are a clever man Han. You have showed us that your crime has cost you dearly, while for our own we go free. I think you have served enough time in prison. Return to your life as an honest man, and please let none of us steal, or cheat again.
And it was so that Han put the peach pit into his pocket, and left as a free man. Free to choose to change his own life for the better. He kept the peach pit in his pocket all of his life, and passed it on to his children. It helped him to remember that honesty yields gold when all is said and done, and that gold is freedom.
Best Loved Folktales From Around the World by Joanna Cole, (N.Y. Doubleday) pgs 555-557. Tales the People Tell in China by Robert Wyndham, (New York: Julian Messner Pub. l971) pg. 20-24.
I am still hunting down the Japanese collection by Ushida that I originally found this story in. Will update.
Gail Rosen suggested a Jewish version. Source:Barbara Diamond Goldin’s ”A Child’s Book of Midrash: 52 Jewish Stories from the Sages.” She calls it The Clever Thief. The thief has a pomegranate seed that can grow and bear fruit overnight if it is planted by a person who has never stolen anything. The author cites the Exempla of the Rabbis #433, p. 169 as her source.
One look at the headlines and you will know why I chose this story for my current feature. I am thinking of sending a peach pit and a copy of this story to those at the top of our government, and asking them if they could grow golden peaches. How can we trust those who have made their fortunes at the expense of others? What has happened that so many people feel that it is acceptable to give in to their greed with abandon? How can these people sleep at night knowing that so many hard working individuals and families have lost their retirement funds, their livelihood, so that they can buy an oil well, or a third vacation home?
No I don’t talk this way to children in school or library settings. I do feel however that stories in their simple and straightforward form can help us to look at what is going on in the world with clear eyes. They can also remind us that greed and crime do not pay. But if greed and white collar crimes do pay in the real world, and are not punished, then at least our stories remind us of the irony of this.
Looking more deeply and personally at the story, it offers each of us a chance to think about our own actions on a daily basis. When do we act out of fear or greed, rather than for the greatest good?
How often do we compare ourselves to others and forget our own transgressions? When all is said and done, our children still learn by example, and thus from those closest to them.
If greed and fear are less evident than generosity, and love, good will win out. Democracy works as long as the individuals in that democracy each live by a code of ethics.
Once people no longer value such things as honesty and responsibility and generosity then laws must be imposed to force them. That is the end of a true democracy.
Imagine that you carry that magic peach pit around in your pocket. There are so many big and small opportunities for making honest choices everyday. Could you grow golden peaches today? What do you think of the idea that honesty ultimately yields freedom?
Using this story in a therapeutic group
I used this story to introduce the topic of honesty in a mixed group of people dealing with addiction and psyche issues on the inpatient unit where I work part-time. After the story I asked them to think of an area in their lives where honesty was most difficult.
People quickly acknowledged that there was both honesty to themselves and honesty to others. These were some of the areas of discussion: They spoke about the dangers of being too honest.
People said that they had to be careful of whom they told what to avoid feeling too vulnerable. Other people spoke about how you could be too honest and hurt someone’s feelings.
Then some of the addicts spoke of the habit of lying to family members, hiding stashes of alcohol or drugs in the house, sneaking out. If they did not lie about such things it would be much more difficult to use them.
Making a commitment to honesty to family members is one of the keys to maintaining sobriety and rebuilding the trust that is usually lost when someone becomes and addict.
Several of the teens in the group spoke with anger of situations in which they felt they had been lied to by adults, parents and people in authority. It was harder for people to talk about being honest to oneself, but that was eventually where the meat of the conversation went.
People spoke of wanting to pretend that experiences from their past had not happened, even though they were still feeling the implications of them. In this case the issues involved traumatic losses.
People with addictions spoke of the difficulty of being honest with oneself when there are two voices speaking in one’s head, one crying for relief through substance abuse and the other calling for abstinence. To which voice do you listen?
We spoke of the necessity of a dialogue between the two, and of fostering the ”adult”, or honest voice in oneself. We also spoke of the need to reach out to someone else who would be able to help us discern the addict’s voice from the voice of reason. This is one of the primary uses of a sponsor in AA.
I ended the group by urging each participant to imagine that they carried around a peach pit, that helped them to remember to listen for truth in themselves and to help guide them in their interactions with others.
If I were doing a group with arts materials I think would make some sort of replica of a peach pit, perhaps from clay, or draw a picture to take with us. Visual cues are very helpful for some people in remembering wisdom.
Elisas slutord:
Please share these stories with others. That is the best way to get them under your skin, and to make personal meaning from them. I’d love to know what you think of the Story of the Month page, or to hear suggestions of stories that remind you of this story or theme. Please write to me at

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