The Parable of the Mugger


The innocent carried a basket of bread to their cottage at the outside of town. A light brown cloth lay over the bread, just as a light brown hood lay over the innocent’s hair. The mugger walked with a club-like walking stick, bashing it against rocks that rimmed the dirt trail. The morning sun was occluded by a lone cloud.

Meeting each other, the mugger raised his walking stick-like club and said to the innocent, “Give up the bread. I have a club.”

The innocent could see indeed that they had bread and the mugger had a club and, by his fearsome aspect, no compunctions in wielding it. “I will give you the bread, but tell me why you are taking it.”

“It is bread and I am hungry.” The innocent expressed surprise that the mugger would humor them.

They placed the basket on the ground so that it might be taken. A bird warbled, taking no notice of this exchange.

“Very well, but I am also hungry.”

This in turn seemed to come as something of a shock to the mugger, but they quickly had a reply. “If I rob you, I will get bread. If I do not, I may not.”

“If you rob me, I will not have bread. If you do not, you may yet.”

The mugger nodded, but proceeded. “There are others of my kind. If I do not take it, who is to say that it does not get taken. If I take from you, I am depriving a criminal and thereby doing some good.”

The innocent despaired. A cool breeze played at the dandelions that grew from about the stones, nothing in the world recognizing their despair. They tried one last response.

“There are not so many as all that.”

The mugger paused to appreciate this response before taking the basket. “Thank you,” they said, “this is all very interesting.”

“But you are still stealing the bread and the basket.”

The mugger shrugged. “I have the club; you have the bread.”