Counting yourself in

The village of Gotham was peopled by simple folk. One day, twelve of them decided to go fishing. Some stayed close to the shore, while the others went far out into the sea.

In the evening, they gathered together again. To make sure that they had all returned, they carried out a count. The first man who did it found there were only eleven of them.

The second man too came up with the same number. Alarmed they all took turns, only to come up with eleven.

Great was their sorrow and adding to their misery was the fact that they did not know who was missing. It struck not even one of them that each of them had disregarded his own self when counting. They sat in a huddle, loudly lamenting that one of them was drowned or killed. Hearing their cries, a traveller stopped and asked them what the matter was. He heard them out and very quickly figured out what had gone wrong.
‘What will you give me if I get the twelfth man for you?’ he asked.

Eagerly they answered, The finest fish that we have.’

The stranger stood them in a line and tapping each with his stick counted aloud. When he reached the twelfth man, he rapped him smartly and cried, ‘Here is your twelfth man.’ How delighted they were! They thanked him over and over again and rewarded him handsomely.

It is a tale that is bound to bring a smile to the face, but within it there lies a valuable reminder too.

If you do not count yourself in, then you are counting yourself out and turning yourself into a non-performer and a non-entity. This happens often enough in life. There are several situations when we would rather keep ourselves out and desist from taking action.

For instance, many hesitate to help victims of road accidents for fear of being implicated.
Quite often, we find ourselves reluctant to speak up against injustice. Good projects do not take off due to lack of cooperation. We forget that the strength of a team is only as great as the weakest person in it.

Yet another important area of participation lies in giving. Nothing quite compares with the happiness of reaching out and lending a helping hand to others.

This is true even if the person receiving it does not know of it or acknowledges it. Great role models come to mind. Mother Teresa was one of them. She summed up her life’s mission in simple but profound words: ‘We cannot do great things on Earth. We can only do small things with great love.’

There are many small acts of courtesy and kindness that every one of us is capable of. Not doing so is counting ourselves out and becoming part of the problem; on the other hand, counting ourselves in makes us part of the solution and, in the process, the world a better place.

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