The Boy Who Cried Wolf

This is the story as we have always told it, for over two thousand years. Not a word has been changed.

There once was a village that decided to task a young boy with guarding his village’s sheep. It was a crushingly boring task. The sheep essentially minded themselves, and as the day wore on, the child became desperate for attention.

Finally, the boy called out, “Wolf! A wolf is coming!” The grownups of the village tore themselves away from their important work and came running to drive the wolf away. But when they got there, there was no wolf.

The grownups grumbled at the boy. One of the village elders said, “This is a very serious responsibility! Don’t ever call out ‘Wolf!’ unless there really is a wolf.” The boy broke down in tears, apologized and promised to do better.

On the second day, the boy was again crushingly bored. The day wore on, and eventually, despite his promise, he called out, “Wolf! A real wolf is here this time!” Once again, the grownups came running. And once again, they were frustrated at the boy’s irresponsibility. The village elder thundered at the boy, “How dare you! You have broken your sacred trust again!” The boy broke down in tears, and made even more promises.

Nevertheless, on the third day, the grownups of the village chose to put the boy in charge of the sheep again. And when the boy cried out for help, they decided not to come.