Island Parable

*I did not write this but am allowed to share it with the author’s permission*

Far into the Pacific Ocean lies a tiny island almost completely unknown to the modern world. Indisputably the most beautiful place on earth, the finest grains of sand fill the white beaches, its crystal waters house glowing reefs with all kinds of fish, and its emerald jungles cradle the sweetest of fruits. In this rich environment, its few inhabitants live simple lives of love.

Not too long ago, a generous king ruled the island. Before ascending to the throne, the king had traveled the world and knew nowhere on earth more beautiful than his home.

The king desired to invite travelers to his island so they too could experience the overwhelming majesty of the place. But because of the king’s many duties, he was not often able to leave the island. So, he decided to hire a travel agent.

While investigating various travel agencies he observed that most agents had never traveled much themselves. They were merely concerned with making money planning others’ vacations.

The king was perplexed. The small island had no airport. The journey would take many days by boat in rough waters. He knew that unless they saw the island for themselves, the office-bound agents could never describe it well enough to convince others to come.

Then one day the king received a message. A young man had heard of the surpassing beauty of the island and wanted to see it for himself. Arrangements were made and the king brought the young man to the island.

During the visit, the king had an idea. Though the young man had no experience working in a travel agency, he had been to the island himself. He could describe the pristine beaches, the majestic mountain, and the fiery sunsets with enthusiasm, for he had actually experienced them. If anyone was capable of convincing people to take the long voyage to the island, it was this young man!

Shortly after the visit, the king hired the young man as the island’s official travel agent. Because he had no former experience as an agent, the young man made several mistakes. But because he was able to describe the island with such intimacy and passion, he attracted a great number of people who were curious to see the place.

As word of the island spread, the young man found it necessary to hire other travel agents who could assist him in his work. Together they established a travel agency, and many vacationers decided to take the trip to the tropical paradise. But while many embarked, only a few arrived. Most were content stopping at another island they encountered along the way. Others became weary of the long journey and turned back. A few even died en route.

After several years, the young man died unexpectedly, leaving behind a travel agency full of employees who had never visited the island. Though they had heard the young man’s account, they could not describe it like he could. They tried to imitate him. They showed off the souvenirs that he had brought back. They hired artists to recreate the scenes he had described. But their efforts proved fruitless. Interest in the island declined. It was simply too expensive, too far away and too difficult a journey.

The travel agents sent messages to the king expressing their concerns. He invited them to come to the island and experience it for themselves. He reassured them that if they could see the island, they would be able to convince others to come.

We cannot come to the island,” they said. “We are too busy managing the agency.”

Unwilling to lose their business or forsake the legacy of the young man, the agency developed a new strategy. Seeing that many travelers were content to stop at a closer island, the agency began to promote that island as the king’s island.

“An island is an island after all,” they said. “And besides, our founder left the agency to us. He obviously trusted us.”

The other island was closer to the mainland and was much larger than the king’s island. It featured theme parks and had an airport which allowed for shorter, more comfortable trips. The other island tried to mimic the scenery and culture of the king’s island. Replicas of the young man’s souvenirs were created and sold to excited crowds.

With the help of their devoted sales teams and ingenious loyalty discounts, the agency flourished like never before. When the travel agents saw the satisfaction of their customers and the financial success it had brought the agency, they exclaimed, “Truly this is the best travel agency in the world! We provide the best trips to the most beautiful island on earth!”

Meanwhile, the king sat alone on a sparkling white beach, waiting for another daring traveler who would be willing to see the most beautiful place on earth for themselves.

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