A Farmer and His Horse


Prof. Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

dieter dietrich fischer epuHow a Seemingly Bad Luck Can Turn Out to Be a Good Luck

This is a Chinese story that illustrates the “yin-yang” principle that in every bad thing is a good thing, and in every good thing a bad thing.

A farmer had a mare. One day she escaped. His neighbors expressed their sympathy, “What a bad luck you have had, to lose your horse.” He said, “Who knows whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.”

A few days later, the mare came back with a stallion. She became pregnant and had a colt. The neighbors congratulated the farmer and said, “How lucky you are. Now you have three horses!” He said, “Who knows whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.”

A year later, the farmer’s young son tried to ride on the colt, but fell, hurt his back and became crippled. The neighbors expressed their deep sorrow to the farmer. He said, “Who knows whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.”

Several years later, there was a war; the government recruited all the able-bodied young men in the province to join the army and most of them died. The farmer’s son was spared. It is often hard to predict the long-term consequences of an event.

Someone asked Chou En-Lai, “Was the French revolution a good thing or a bad thing?” He replied, “It is too early to tell.”


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Jul 2016.

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