THE PARABLE OF THE PIZZA PARLOR AND THE TACO STAND
Once upon a time there was a small town with a small town square. On one side of the square was a pizza parlor. On the other side of the square was a Taco Stand.
Every evening after work the townspeople would go into the town square for dinner. Those who loved pizza would go to the pizza parlor, while those who favored tacos would go to the taco stand. and they would eat their meals and talk about the day's events until it was time to go home to bed.
Then one day, a stranger appeared at the door of the pizza parlor. He looked in, then stepped into the middle of the floor and proclaimed, "My goodness; what a disgusting looking food! It looks like someone just spilled the pantry onto the floor, swept the mess onto some bread, and you idiots are paying to eat that!" The pizza lovers looked up in shock at the rudeness being displayed!
"You know what your problem is?" the man continued, "You are all racists! You think you are too good to eat at the Taco stand. You think Taco eaters are socially inferior and don't want to be seen with them, do you? Well, I am not a racist and I am a Taco lover, so I am going!""
Then the stranger walked out.
Some of the Pizza lovers were suddenly worried. They did not want to be seen as racist. A few even suggested maybe they should quit the pizza parlor and eat at the Taco stand, until one of the town's elders spoke up.
"Does it make any sense?" he said.
Everyone scratched their heads and replied, "Does what make sense?"
"That a professed taco lover would bother to waste his time coming into an establishment whose food he professes to despise, to hurl insults at everyone? If he is merely a taco lover, why isn't he spending his time eating at the Taco Stand? Why is he here at all? Is his life so totally empty and devoid of all meaning that he can only find purpose screaming at people whose lives are not equally pontless and lacking substance?"
....Of course, we no longer congregate in the town square to discuss the days' events. We meet on Facebook, and Twitter, and MySpace, and dozens of other social networking sites that make the entire nation into a convivial town square for people to meet and talk about the day's events until it is time to go home to bed. But the same wisdom applies. If you are meeting with a group of friends who share a common interest or a common perspective on those day's events, does it make any sense when strangers barge into your circle of friends, and hurl insults at you and what you believe? Not unless they have a secret agenda and a secret purpose. Not unless they, like the taco stand owner's nephew, are there to trick you into abandoning your own choices and freedoms and onto a path they personally will profit from.
...each other in puzzlement when the town elder spoke again. "Would you behave that rudely? Would you take time away from eating your pizza to go stand in the taco shop shouting insults at people?"
The pizza lovers all shook their heads.
The town elder continued, "I know that man. He is the nephew of the owner of the Taco Stand, and he came in here to trick you into taking your business to the Taco Stand while pretending to be just an ordinary town citizen."
Enlightenment began to dawn on the faces of the pizza lovers!
The elder smiled, "When you see someone come into your social circle, screaming and ranting and raving against the things you love and support, you need to ask yourself why is that person willing to come into a hostile group, attacking that which is loved and supported. You have to ask yourself if it makes sense that an ordinary person with no ulterior motives would behave like that. Have they nothing better to do than intrude into other peoples' affairs and offend them? No, not without some hidden purpose. Not without something they personally will gain at your expense!"
The pizza lovers nodded agreement at the wisdom of their town elder and happily went back to eating their pizzas and talking about the day's events until it was time to go home to bed. Across the town square, the owner of the Taco Stand waited in vain for the expected surge of former pizza lovers to enter his taco stand, and eventually decided that his nephew's time was better spent washing dishes and sweeping the floors...