Conservative parables are stories that illustrate a conservative insight. The stories are typically based on real events.
- 1 The Broken Bicycle
- 2 The Desperate Smoker
- 3 The Fasting Woman
- 4 The Troubled Pregnancy
- 5 The Lost $40
- 6 The Flop
- 7 The Difficult Science Problem
- 8 The Prodigal Son Has Children
- 9 The Conservative Conference
- 10 The Convert
- 11 The Wall
- 12 The Fly Ball
- 13 The Story of Two Psychiatrists -- Or How To Deal With Liberal Critics
- 14 Welfare
- 15 The University Assignment
- 16 The Little Red Hen - Ronald Reagan Version
- 17 Socialism
- 18 Other Parables
The Broken Bicycle
One morning in New York City a crowd of pedestrians waited for the streetlight to change so that they could cross the intersection. The sidewalk corner was crowded with people, as it often is, and one pedestrian stepped slightly into the street in anticipation of crossing it. But at that moment a messenger on a bicycle was moving quickly through the intersection, and was thrown off balance by hitting the pedestrian's foot. The bicycle crashed, destroying it beyond repair.
The crowd gasped in horror, but the bicyclist was unharmed. His bicycle, however, had been ruined. One bystander, observing that the fault was due to the pedestrian, wanted to donate so that the bicyclist could buy a replacement. But the bystander could not afford to give him much money. So instead the bystander took out a $5 bill and handed it to the bicyclist in front of the crowd.
Others then followed that example and made donations of their own to the bicyclist. Before long he had enough to buy a replacement for his bicycle, and was back at work by the afternoon.
The Desperate Smoker
A smoker was in a drug store to purchase a pack of cigarettes. Short on cash, he emptied all his pockets in order to scrounge up with every last penny he had. The cashier counted all the change but found it was ten cents short of the total required for the cheapest pack of cigarettes.
The smoker desperately turned to the man standing behind him and asked him for a dime. The bystander clearly had a spare dime.
Should the bystander give the smoker a dime so he can purchase the pack of cigarettes?
The bystander, who is generous by nature, did something more difficult for him: he denied the request and instead urged the smoker to "kick the habit."
The smoker then gathered all his change and left the store.
The Fasting Woman
A woman had been fasting for several days and was quite weak. It was Sunday morning, and she wondered whether she had enough strength to attend church. It would have been easy to justify not going, as she had already shown her love and devotion to God that week. But she decided to attend the services anyway. Without eating any breakfast, she prepared herself for the late morning service. She got dressed, gathered her purse and belongings, and drove off to the church.
The church was filled for the late-morning service, with many hundreds of worshipers. The woman sat near the back and watched the pews fill up with members of the community, young and old. The service was about to begin. The woman then heard an unusual commotion outside, including several loud noises and shouts. She turned around several times to look at the door to the church. Her intuition told her something was wrong.
Suddenly, a large, armed man burst through the door and began firing his gun at the hundreds of worshipers, children and all. The woman mustered all her strength and pulled out her own gun from her bag. She then shot the intruder. Stunned, and expecting to die from her shot, the intruder reacted by killing himself. The worshipers in the church were all saved. Afterwards, the woman said that she had been "praying to God that he direct me" in what to do in life.
The Troubled Pregnancy
A pregnant woman was doing missionary work in the Philippines. Due to contaminated drinking water in an impoverished area, the woman contracted amoebic dysentery while pregnant. This required that she take strong medications in order to recover.
The woman's doctor told her that the medication inevitably caused irreversible damage to the developing unborn child in her womb. The doctor advised the woman to have an abortion. The doctor told the woman that she would be burdened with a disabled child and it would be better to get rid of the unborn child now through abortion.
The woman refused to have the abortion and subsequently gave birth to a baby boy, whom she named Timothy.
The Lost $40
One day a teenager received $40 from his father. The teenager then had to drive somewhere, and he put the $40 on the seat of his car. After going in and out of the car several times, and driving with the windows open, the $40 was gone. He searched and searched for it, but could not find it anywhere.
He then spent dozens of hours agonizing over the lost $40, obsessed with having lost it. It bothered him for weeks, even months. He still remembered it years later.
One day he realized that, based on the prevailing wage for teenagers of $8 per hour, that $40 was worth no more than about 6 hours of his time (after taxes). If he had simply worked rather than worry, he would have quickly "found" the $40 and accomplished something in the process.
A skinny young man with limited athletic ability had a determination to do his very best and win. He picked the high jump event, but could clear only about 5' 3", nowhere near what was needed to win any competitions. But he worked tirelessly, trying all known techniques for jumping over a bar. Still, he could not improve to the point where he could win.
Yet he did not give up, and harnessed his competitive spirit to invent a revolutionary style of jumping back-first over the bar. Though lacking the athletic gifts of his competitors, the young man improved his jumping ability by a foot and more. He began to win.
His peculiar style attracted mockery and name-calling, as people derided his technique as the "flop". But that did not faze him, and he continued to jump in the direction opposite to all his competitors. Despite winning the national college high jump event, experts still considered his success to be a fluke and his approach to be a joke.
When it came time for the Olympics, no one considered the young man to have a chance, and his more athletic competitors were favorites to win the high jump event. The whole world was riveted to the television screen as the young man flawlessly cleared every height as the bar was raised again and again. When the bar was finally raised to an Olympic record height of 7' 4 1/4", only the young man and his "flop" were able to jump over it. He had won the gold medal.
The Difficult Science Problem
Physics 401 was the most difficult course in the entire college, having problem sets that would take many hours to complete each week. The students often worked on the homework together, as allowed and even encouraged by the professor. Students were also able to consult books and online resources in solving problems.
As the course progressed, the problems became increasingly difficult and complex. Some students were better than others at solving the problems. Reputations developed about which students had answers, and which ones did not.
Near the end of the course, the teacher assigned a particularly difficult problem to the class. The night before it was due, the students gathered as they had been throughout the course, and worked as hard as they could to find the answer. One student who had a reputation for not being as smart claimed he had the answer, and started to explain it to the others. But the smarter students quickly rejected his approach to the problem and told him to be quiet. Despite trying several times to describe his answer, he was ignored.
The next day the students handed in their homeworks, and the following week the professor returned their graded papers. He said that only one student had answered the difficult problem correctly. That student was the one who had tried to explain it to the others, but they would not listen.
The one student had found the correct answer in a book not used by the other students.
The Prodigal Son Has Children
A good man had two sons. One of them was defiant and insisted on ignoring and disobeying his father, leaving him, and then squandering his money on immoral living in a distant land. He refused to return to his father to ask forgiveness.
Eventually the defiant son had children of his own. Living in squalor, his own suffering children would ask him about their grandfather. One day his own children asked why they never visit Grandpa.
For the first time the man looked at himself objectively, and realized how illogical and wrong it was for him to abandon his own father. He finally returned to home to ask for forgiveness, and brought his children with him.
The Conservative Conference
A conservative conference was scheduled for Sept. 25, 2001, expecting most attendees to travel by air. Unfortunately, on Sept. 11, 2001 there was the 9/11 terrorist hijacking of airplanes and a national crisis resulting in the grounding of airplanes for a week and widespread panic.
As a result, most conferences were cancelled, and the few that were held were poorly attended. Airplanes flew nearly empty for several weeks after they were allowed to fly.
Though he expected few others to attend, one conservative rejected the objections of his family and flew out to the conference. He saw only two other passengers on his 140-seat airplane. He checked into the hotel and felt that at least he could cheer up the conference organizers when no one else showed up.
But to his great surprise, everyone else showed up. The other attendees concluded that both logic and faith weighed in favor of traveling to the conference. There was no logical reason for staying home, and faith eliminated any anxiety. In fact, the conservatives did not even waste time discussing their decisions to attend, at a time when nearly all other travelers acted irrationally and avoided airplanes.
Born in 1910, this child suffered from a physical handicap as a youngster and could not attend regular school. He had to wear leg braces and was eventually enrolled in a school for "physical defectives." But that school was managed by the same organization that ran the school for "mental defectives" and, as he later explained, there was "some overlapping in the curriculum." As a result, he spent his days in basket-weaving classes, and was deprived of any formal academic instruction until age 10.
But he worked hard, and eventually found his way to the London School of Economics, the top school of its kind in the world.
He was an avid socialist, as were most of his fellow students. But in his senior year, he happened to take an economics seminar taught by Professor Arnold Plant. That course was devoted to the "invisible hand." It did not have any readings, and focused on stimulating discussions instead.
This young man's prior educational background may not have given him as much knowledge as his classmates, but it did give him an open mind. This single course changed his life, as he embraced the logic and power of the free market.
Later he immigrated to the United States and became an economics professor. But unlike most of his colleagues, he avoided mathematical equations and formulae, bucking the modern trend in his field.
His extraordinary insight was that the free market always reaches the most efficient level of productive activity, in the absence of transaction costs.
The leader of a nation traveled to a distant land, and planned to deliver a speech there. This leader was not known for having great intelligence, and in fact was often ridiculed within his own country. He wondered what he should say in the foreign country while he was there.
For decades, there had been a massive wall in this foreign land which denied its inhabitants the freedom to travel and visit relatives, or simply move to places having greater opportunity. Inhabitants who tried to surmount the wall were shot and killed. The region enclosed by the wall was subjected to communism; outside the wall capitalism and freedom existed.
The leader began to focus on the wall in connection with his planned speech, and proposed uttering the bold command, "tear down this wall."
But his top advisers, who were very experienced in politics and foreign policy, were adamantly against such a bold statement. They insisted on removing it from the speech. As each draft circulated these experts took the phrase out, but each time the leader inserted this phrase back in. The experts felt the phrase made the leader look foolish and hopelessly naive, and could not possibly have a positive effect. The experts were sure it would subject their leader to even more ridicule than he already endured.
But the leader did not care about the potential for ridicule, and he wanted to say what he felt was best for his audience. He ignored his experts and delivered the bold command as part of his speech.
The leader's advisers were horrified when they heard the words delivered in the actual speech. They braced for a backlash and criticism.
But two years later, to the amazement of the entire world, this wall that had stood for decades was torn down exactly as the leader courageously suggested.
The Fly Ball
One Sunday afternoon a dozen teenagers gathered for a game of coed softball against a rival team from another church. As the first team's coach assigned his players to positions in the field, he noticed a new player on his team whom he had seen only before in church services. She suffered from a severe case of cerebral palsy, making it difficult for her to walk or use her arms. But she always had a smile on her face, and she brought a softball glove to play.
The coach, against his better judgment, told her to be the right-fielder. The coach knew that in softball the ball is hit to the right field less frequent than to other positions. This was supposed to be a friendly game between churches, but turned out to be far more competitive than that.
The game went smoothly for several innings. But the other team was good, and it was hitting the ball hard.
The inevitable disaster then struck in the 6th inning, with several runners on base and two outs. A batter for the other team hit a line drive directly at the right fielder.
The coach, and indeed his entire team, turned in dreadful anticipation as they watched the ball travel at a high speed right at the player with cerebral palsy.
The player held up her glove and the ball smacked directly into its pocket. She had caught the third out. Her team erupted in cheers and her ever-present smile glowed even wider. Her team went on to win the game.
Her teammates were inspired more by her catch than by anything else they saw the entire year.
The Story of Two Psychiatrists -- Or How To Deal With Liberal Critics
Rowland Evans, the famed columnist, was having lunch with Ronald Reagan in 1987, six years into his presidency, a milestone by which the previous five presidents had been defeated, resigned in disgrace, refused to consider reelection, or assassinated. Somehow, Reagan was shining through, making it look easy, and was enormously popular. Evans, a tough old newsman, was in awe. He looked Reagan in the eye and said, “You know, Mr. President, I’ve known you for more than twenty years. I first met you in 1966, and the amazing thing is that you don’t look any older now than you did back then, and the criticism never gets you down. How do you do it?”
In response, Reagan offered a parable. "Let me explain it this way":
Let me tell you the story of the two psychiatrists — the old psychiatrist and the young psychiatrist — who had a practice together. They’d come into their office every day just bubbling with enthusiasm, always happy, upbeat, smiling, and chipper. Then they’d go into their separate suites and have patients come in and lie on the couch all day and talk about the woes in their lives. At 6:00 p.m. they’d come out and the young psychiatrist would be devastated, wiped out by the day, with a stomachache, and just miserable. The old psychiatrist would be just as chipper and smiling and upbeat as he was when he went in that morning. This went on for a number of months.
Finally one day they came out at 6:00 p.m., the young psychiatrist devastated as usual, and the old psychiatrist just as happy and smiling as he was when went in. The young psychiatrist stopped him and said, “I don’t understand it. We do the same thing every day, and I leave wiped out by hearing patients all day, and you come out after patients have been streaming in and out of your office just as upbeat as ever. How do you do it?”
The old psychiatrist paused a minute and said, “I never listen.” 
So, I was talking to this little girl Catherine, the daughter of some friends, and she said she wanted to be President some day.
Catherine replied - "I would give houses to all the homeless people."
"Wow - what a worthy goal you have there, Catherine." I told her, "You don't have to wait until you're President to do that, you can come over to my house and clean up all the dog poop in my back yard and I will pay you $5. Then we can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $5 to use for a new house."
Catherine thought that over for a second, while her mom looked at me seething, and Catherine replied, "why doesn't the homeless guy come over and clean up the dog poop and you can just pay him the $5?"
And I said, "Welcome to the Republican Party."
The University Assignment
A young student studying his first Politics assignment picked to answer the question - "Have we reached the end of political ideology?" The young student, as this was his first paper, studied hard and long to argue that there has been a rise in conservative thought in recent years as a response to growing globalization and encroaching liberalism. The lecturer gave the paper low marks despite solid referencing and an extensive bibliography. The young student felt slighted by this as he had put in many hours work. Instead of bowing down and re-writing the assignment according to his lecturer's standards, the student petitioned the head of department to have his paper and final mark reviewed and also got several others to back him. In the end the student got an A grade.
The Little Red Hen - Ronald Reagan Version
"About a year ago I imposed a little poetry on you. It was called "The Incredible Bread Machine" and made a lot of sense with reference to matters economic. You didn't object too much so having gotten away with it once I'm going to try again. This is a little treatise on basic economics called 'The Modern little Red Hen.'" 
Once upon a time there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered some grains of wheat. She called her neighbors and said 'If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?'
"Not I, " said the cow.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the pig.
"Not I," said the goose.
"Then I will," said the little red hen. And she did. The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain. "Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Out of my classification," said the pig.
"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.
"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.
"Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.
At last the time came to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake bread?" asked the little red hen.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.
"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.
"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.
"Then I will," said the little red hen.
She baked five loaves and held them up for the neighbors to see.
They all wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I can eat the five loaves myself."
"Excess profits," cried the cow.
"Capitalist leech," screamed the duck.
"I demand equal rights," yelled the goose.
And the pig just grunted.
And they painted "unfair" picket signs and marched round and around the little red hen shouting obscenities.
When the government agent came, he said to the little red hen, "You must not be greedy."
"But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.
"Exactly," said the agent. "That's the wonderful free enterprise system. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations productive workers must divide their products with the idle."
And they lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful, I am grateful."
But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more bread....
Socialism In The Classroom
An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student, but had once failed an entire class.
The class (students) insisted that socialism worked since no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism."
"All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A," said the professor.
After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who had studied hard were upset while the students who had studied very little were happy.
But, as the second test rolled around, the students who had studied little studied even less and the ones who had studied hard decided that since they couldn't make an A, they also studied less. The second Test average was a D.
No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average grade was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling, all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for anyone else.
To their great surprise they all failed.
The professor told them that socialism, too, would ultimately fail because of the same basic human principles of incentive.
The harder people try to succeed the greater their reward (capitalism), but when a government takes all the reward away (socialism) no one will try or succeed.
The Drowning Man
A conservative and a liberal are walking along the beach when they see a man drowning a hundred feet off shore. The conservative throws him a 50-foot rope and shouts to the victim "You provide the other fifty feet." The liberal throws the man a 200-foot rope ... and lets go of both ends.
The Missing Child
A little girl is late home from school one day. Her mother becomes increasingly worried and after 15 minutes have passed is beside herself with anxiety. Afraid to leave the house in case the child returns, and desperate to go look for her, she is on the verge of telephoning the police when the child waltzes in through the door as though nothing is amiss. Relieved and angry the mother cries: "Where have you been?! I've been so worried!"
The child answers that she had been with the woman who lived just next door, who had very recently lost her husband. "What have you been doing bothering the poor lady next door?" the mother asks crossly.
"I haven't been bothering her, I've been comforting her," says the little girl.
"Comforting her? You're just a child, what could you do to comfort her?"
"I sat in her lap and I cried with her."
Sometimes there are no solutions, no smart come-backs, no quick fixes that can be determined through intellectual reasoning or policy making. As Dreher says: Politics and economics won’t save us; if our culture is to be saved at all, it will be by faithfully living by the Permanent Things, conserving these ancient moral truths in the choices we make in our everyday lives.
The Atheist and the Believer
An atheist and a believer were having a discussion. "I don't believe in anything I can't understand!" cried the atheist. "Ah," said the believer gently. "Then your beliefs must be very small."
"How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin." 
by R.W. Grant
While junketing in Africa Our senator one day A friendly tribe did gather 'round To hear what he would say.
Said he, "I bring enlightment!" "Umgawa!" they all cried "If you'd but follow our advice!" "Umgawa!" they replied.
"I'll tell you how our system works, I'll tell you how it's run: We serve the public good by force! And this is how it's done:
"If one needs what others earn No longer need one steal it! Our government now does the job And people hardly feel it!
"Umgawa!" they cried out again - The senator continued then: And we will show you how it's done, And we will show the way, So you may have Utopia As in the U.S.A.!"
Our senator was finished now. The chief rose with a smile: "Thank you for your words," he said, "Now stay with us a while!"
The senator was pleased as punch With witnessing that day The happy people at their work, The children at their play, As he was greeted all about: "Umgawa!" was the happy shout.
And now the chieftain said, "My friend, Come see our cattle which we tend!" So off across the pasture now The senator was led - But suddenly the chief said "Wait!" He took his arm and said:
"A word of caution ere we pass - Don't step before you look - Lest, my friend, you tread upon Umgawa underfoot!"
The Graduate's Gift
An arrogant young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his wealthy father could easily afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box. Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold.
Angry, he shouted at his father and said "with all your money, you give me a Bible?" and stormed out of the house.
Many years passed and the young man had become very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father now was getting old, and thought perhaps he should go see him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still gift-wrapped Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matt.7:11, "And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father which is in Heaven, give to those who ask Him?"
As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had wanted. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.
The Pitcher, the Chicken, and the Crow
A thirsty chicken and a thirsty crow were each given a pitcher of water. First they tried reaching into the pitchers with their beaks, but neither could reach the water. Then they tried pushing the pitchers over, but they were heavy and sturdily built so they would not tip.
The chicken began flapping its wings and strutted up to the crow. "No fair!" squawked the chicken "the greedy farmer hasn't given us enough water." The crow shrugged, and began hopping around the pitcher, looking at it this way and that.
The chicken strutted off and went to complain to the farmer. It squawked and squawked, but the farmer ignored it. It went back to the crow, who was grabbing pebbles in his beak and dropping them into its pitcher with pebbles. "Come with me!" it said, "Let's demand that the farmer give us our water!" The crow ignored it and returned to his work.
The chicken went again to the farmer and decided to take its protest to the next level. It scratched and pecked at the farmer's leg, cutting the skin, until the farmer angrily kicked it away. Indignant, the chicken went back to the crow, squawking more than ever. "That brutal farmer kicked me," it complained. "when all I was doing was demanding my rights."
By this point the crow was standing on the top of his pitcher, happily drinking. He had dropped enough pebbles into the pitcher that the water level had risen nearly to the top. The chicken saw this and walked up to the crow to complain. "Unfair!" it cried. "I want water too."
The crow looked over at the chicken and told him: "I have water because while you were complaining, I was looking for a way to get the water. The first two ways did not work, but I kept trying until I came up with something better. Then I patiently put in the hard work to put my plan into action, and now, finally, I can drink. You can do the same with your pitcher, and you will have water too. You are bigger and stronger than me, so it will be even easier for you."
The chicken strutted over to his pitcher and picked up one pebble and dropped it in and sat down. "This is hard work!" it complained "I'm thirsty and I'm tired."
The crow looked over at the chicken and said "just this one time I will be charitable. You can drink from my pitcher, but next time you must do the work yourself."
The chicken hopped up and stuck its head down. Because its beak was shorter than the crow's, it could not quite reach the water.
"You cheated me!" it cried, "I cannot reach the water!"
"I am sorry," said the crow, "but you are only a few pebbles short. Surely you can do the tiny bit of work yourself."
The crow flew off, its thirst satiated. The chicken scratched at the ground and squawked and squawked but nobody would listen and it stayed thirsty.
- God Guided Me And Protected Me. 7 News: The Denver Channel
- This parable is based on the birth and life of Tim Tebow
- The Coase Theorem: The Greatest Economic Insight of the 20th Century
- Bob Novak, a Giant of Journalism
- Ronald Reagan By Peter J. Wallison
- Dreher, Rod. "A Crunchy Con Manifesto" National Review Online. 26 December 2007.
- Cottrell, Stephen. I Thirst. (Zondervan; Grand Rapids, Michigan; 2003.) ISBN 0-310-25069-2
- Ronald Reagan; Communism
- Essay:Greatest Conservative Parables
- New Testament understanding through the Jewish perspective Example 3 [the enacted parable]