Vocabulary story example

Unit 1
The old king, sitting behind the high walls of his citadel, did not know what to do.  His advisors had been hovering over him, asking him to make a decision.  But he just wasn’t ready.  Who should he turn over the kingdom to – his churlish and ill-mannered son, to his servile and over-eager-to-please nephew.  Or should he create a competition to find the best ruler?

Many people wanted the kingship.  After all, the kingship provided a bonanza, a prize of great value.  But everybody was jostling each other, pushing and shoving to gain favor.  Laggards who lagged behind would not be considered.

The king did not enjoy the discord of all the arguing, wrangling, and one-upsmanship.  The discordant noise hurt both his ears and his soul.  He longed for peace, and feared that all the competition, rather than bringing forward the best candidate, would leave his kingdom reduced to piles of rubble, due to all the fighting. He feared that the kingdom would revert to the chaos and darkness there had been before his rule.

Night after night, the old king kept a lonely vigil, late into the night, thinking and praying about his problem, groping in the dark for a solution.  He wanted to preclude, exclude, and disqualify all destructive competition.

At last he had an idea.  It had evolved slowly, developing and improving in his mind as he thought more about it.  He issued a decree, a formal declaration that those who wanted to become king must collaborate to solve a problem.  They must come up with a solution by cooperating and working together.

What was the problem?  To come up with an adage, a wise saying or proverb that would be the basis of ruling the kingdom under the new king.  This would be the basis of all decisions made by the new king, and the new king would be bound to follow this adage.

At first, the competitors shouted out different ideas for the adage:  “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”  “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise,” which was an excerpt or selection from Poor Richard’s Almana.c But it was clear most of these ideas were rather silly, so the smarter competitors began to talk together.  And as they did, they began to see that working together and collaborating they could come up with better ideas as they discussed them.  “What about the Golden Rule?” said Lord Jay, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“Yes,” said Lord Kay, “but what about when this is an enemy who is attacking your borders? Should you just smile nicely hoping they will go away?”  This was going to be harder than they thought.  As they collaborated, those who were interested in a solution continued to work, while those with no patience wandered off and were eliminated.  The king gave plaudits and approval to those who collaborated for the good of the country, and made them his new counselors.  He then set them the task of selecting the next king, smiled, and retired.

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