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A parable

Once upon a time there was a young man who was eating slices of of a particular baker’s bread, and had eaten perhaps half of a loaf, but the baker would not allow him to eat any more buying by the slice. “Any more and you have to buy the loaf,” he told the young man.

The thing was, this was a baker who was choosy about with whom he did business, and while anybody could buy slices, he wouldn’t sell an entire loaf to just anybody. He would only sell a loaf to somebody who had demonstrated that they understood how the bread was made, where the flour came from, what role the yeast played in the rising of the dough, and so on. Not only that, but he would only bake so many loaves per day.

The young man had done his homework about baking, and had gotten to know the baker by spending time in the shop. The baker seemed receptive to the idea of selling him the half of the loaf he hadn’t yet eaten. But then, suddenly, seeing how many customers were trying to buy loaves that day, the baker decided that the young man would need to come back another day for his loaf. “But what about the remainder half of the loaf I’ve already eaten in slices?” the young man asked. The baker didn’t answer him, and focused on getting to know the crowd of people in his shop to figure out who was worthy to buy his loaves of bread. The young man went away hungry and somewhat dejected.

Towards the end of the day, the young man, still hungry, dropped by the baker’s shop again, which was now empty except for the baker. The young man saw that all of the day’s loaves were sitting on the counter, including his uneaten half. “What happened?” he asked, incredulous. The baker replied, “By the time I figured out to whom I was willing to sell for the day, everybody had changed their mind and decided to go buy bread elsewhere.”

“That’s terrible!” the young man exclaimed. “Well, I’m still more than willing to buy my uneaten half!”

“No,” the baker said, gathering up all of the loaves into a trash sack, “everything has to be thrown away for the day. Bakers’ rules. Of course, since I didn’t sell anything I don’t know that I’ll have the money to buy ingredients for tomorrow’s loaves, but I guess that’s how it goes.”

“Wait a minute,” the young man said. “You know me, I had done my research on baking and bread, I was here early to talk to you, I had already eaten half a loaf paying by the slice, was willing to pay full price for a loaf for the remaining half, you still decided not to sell to me, and now you have nothing to show for the day?”

“That’s right,” the baker said, shrugging his shoulders.

The young man turned on his heel to go find a bake shop run by somebody with more sense, feeling fortunate, in a way, that his money ultimately hadn’t gone to a person so short-sighted and foolish.

Draw your own conclusions.

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