Conservative parables

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Conservative parables are stories that illustrate a conservative insight. The stories may or may not have actually occurred.

The Desperate Smoker[1]

A smoker was in a drug store to purchase a pack of cigarettes. Short on cash, he went to the cheapest cigarette store he could find and emptied all his pockets in order to scrounge up with every last penny he had. The cashier counted all the change and 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

"God Guided Me And Protected Me": Based on a true story.[2]
A women 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 man burst through the door and began shooting at the hundreds of worshipers, children and all. The woman mustered all her strength and pulled out her gun from bag. She then shot the intruder. Stunned, and expecting to die from her shot, the intruder killed 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[3]

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.

Twenty years later, Tim Tebow was recognized as the best college football player in the United States, the first to win that prestigious award as only a sophomore.

The Lost $40

One day a teenager received $40 from his father. The teenager then had to drive somewhere, and 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.

The Flop

A skinny young man having limited athletic ability had a determination to do his very best and win. He picked the high jump event, but could only clear 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 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 in 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 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.

Virtually immediately everyone else, including those who had mercilessly mocked him, began praising and imitating his style. To this day it is known as the "Fosbury Flop."[4]

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 student having the correct answer had found it in a book not used by the other students.

The Wall

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. Inside the wall the system of communism was imposed; 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 the intended 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.[5]


So, I was talking to this little girl Catherine, the daughter of some friends, and she said she wanted to be President some day.

Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there with us - and I asked Catherine - "If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?"

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[6]

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 bibilography. 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 lecturers standards, the student petioned 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 Conservative Conference[7]

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 weeks once they were allowed to fly at all.

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.

The Convert

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.

In 1991, he was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. His name is Ronald Coase. To this day liberals fail to give him the recognition he earned.[8]

Other Parables

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

Story related by Stephen Cottrell, SCP, Bishop of Reading[9]
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.[10]

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."


  1. This actually happened.
  2. God Guided Me And Protected Me. 7 News: The Denver Channel
  3. This is based on the birth and life of Tim Tebow. [1]
  6. This actually happened.
  7. This actually happened.
  8. The Coase Theorem: The Greatest Economic Insight of the 20th Century
  9. Cottrell, Stephen. I Thirst. (Zondervan; Grand Rapids, Michigan; 2003.) ISBN 0-310-25069-2
  10. Dreher, Rod. "A Crunchy Con Manifesto" National Review Online. 26 December 2007.

See also