Bad news or good news?

Sep 29th, 2012 | By | Category: Personal Columns

A colleague tells a Chinese legend counselling caution about drawing conclusions.

There was a farmer who had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The farmer’s friends sympathised with him over his bad news. ‘It could be bad news, it could be good news, who knows?’ responded the farmer.

Sometime later, the horse came home – time bringing with it a group of beautiful wild horses. The friends were delighted at the farmer’s good fortune and said to him how pleased they were at the good news. ‘It could be good news, it could be bad news, who knows?’ he said.

The farmer’s son was riding of the horses and fell and broke his leg. The friends were upset at such bad news. The farmer said, ‘It could be bad news, it could be good news, who knows?’ he shrugged.

A war came, and every young man was called up and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg, was left at home. The friends felt the farmer would be glad of the way things had turned out. ‘It could be good news, it could be bad news, who knows?’ said the farmer.

How does one call things, even in retrospect?

Getting into her car in the French village of Ascain, a Parisian lady was concerned that a car had parked closely beside her. Turning around to try to see better, she pressed the accelerator instead of the brake of the car with her foot. The car shot backwards across the road, smashing a Volkswagen before bouncing off a wall on the opposite side of the road. Before hitting the Volkswagen, her car ripped the front off the silver Opel in which we were travelling.

Bad news? It seemed so at the time. Friends who had flown from Ireland for just two days were with us; we had a great day out planned. Now we had a wrecked car which had to be collected; a taxi to wait for; a replacement car to collect; paperwork to complete. Our day was lost.

But couldn’t it have been good news? What if we had been a fraction of a second earlier? Instead of shooting across the road, the car would have hit us broadside, hitting my wife in the driving seat and propelling us across the road into other parked cars.

It was not an experience one would ever wish to repeat, but one infinitely better than broken limbs or worse.


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  1. Sounds horrendous. Glad that you both ok, only takes a fraction of a second for disaster to strike. The Good Lord looking down on you both, or His angels, since this is a day for Michaels’ and angels!!!
    Not long back from Leighlin and the organ dedication service, the music was out of this world, led by the Dean’s better half!!! It was truly awesome. Cathedral packed, hard to understand where all these people are on a sunday morning. The new organ is fantastic, and it was a lovely service.
    Hope you are both enjoying your holiday, and that your friends arrived safely.
    Soon be back to reality!!!! and the Close!!!
    Horrendous flooding in Spain, you probably seen it on tv, it’s unnatural what damage has been done, the storm is heading west, so don’t know whether that means France or Portugal!!!! Never one of my strong points Geography.
    Enjoy what time you have left, have the tractor driving Rt Rev coming tomorrow!!! That’ll be something else. Take care. God Bless. Lv Patty.

  2. I think I’d take your positive approach too – saved from something much worse.

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