4. Diamonds In The Rough

“Kick back and relax, Little Man, and I’ll tell you a tale you can pass on to your grandchildren some day.”

Andrew leaned against his backpack.

“Once upon a time there lived a community of immortal stones, all of them diamonds in the rough” Sam began. “These stones spent their whole lives working to shape and polish their brilliance. They busily cut off their rough outer coats, careful to reveal their precious glimmering cores, the diamonds within. They sanded their facets and sharpened their edges. Day by day, they worked on their brightness, striving to present their best to the world.”

“Do these diamonds have arms and stuff?” Andrew said.

“For the purpose of storytelling, yes, they did. Like a cartoon where inanimate objects dance and carry on. Anyway, as the stones polished themselves, the world became a brighter and lighter place. Every diamond was proud to belong to this community and to be an equal member of it. Every rough diamond knew they all had potential. With work and devotion, the brilliance inside of them would burst forth.

“One day, two stones suddenly started arguing about who had the bigger diamond hidden inside. One said, ‘My diamond is bigger than yours.’

“The other said, ‘My brilliance is brighter than yours. In time you’ll see!’

“A third stone overheard this and joined in the quarrel. In no time others were drawn into the fray. Each claimed to be the biggest, the best, the brightest. As they argued, they noticed that everyone was different and that each individual was shaping their inner diamond to their own image and taste. Well, how could they tell who was the biggest, brightest, and best of all if everyone was different? Turns out the whole community had suddenly become shaken and disturbed. The peace that had blessed them all abruptly vanished.

“Time went by, and the stones could not reach agreement. Then one of them chanced upon the bright idea to ask the Creator to tell them the truth. Being awesome, powerful, and wise, the Creator said, ‘I’ll gladly answer your question, but the truth will cost you your immortality. Are you willing to risk that?’

“One especially bold diamond said, ‘That’s a pretty steep price. Can we bargain?’

“‘Well, you get what you pay for,’ the Creator said, ‘and after all you’re asking for the ultimate truth. Take it or leave it.”

“The stones conferred. Some grumbled about highway robbery, but other voices won out. One of them spoke for the group and said, ‘You drive a hard bargain, but we’re willing to sacrifice our immortality to learn the truth!’

“The Creator smiled and explained, ‘At the time of your death, each of you will leave behind on earth the brilliance you are now working on.’

“‘What? We can’t take it with us?’ the bold diamond retorted.

“‘That brilliance will be bought and sold in human-run markets. The final price will be your true value as measured in human currency. This price will tell you which of you are most valued and least valued. The truth of your value will exist in human minds only. Those of you who make little effort to reach your full potential will be forgotten. Others will violate the universal laws, staining your diamond with an indelible dye—a very sad future indeed. The good news is that those of you who work hard to create a unique brilliance of beauty will be exceptionally valued, and generations of humans will appreciate your beauty.’

“Having made his speech, the Creator disappeared in a puff of glitter, leaving the puzzled diamonds to wonder if they’d gotten their immortality’s worth. There really were no easy answers. They would have to work hard all their days to establish their future price, while discovering their infinite value within.”

Sam paused to see if the boy showed any signs of interest. Then he said, “Dignity is like a diamond in the rough. Nobody knows how high its potential beauty is, but everybody can see and appreciate it when the work is finished.”

Andrew sat motionless, eyes glazed over. Sam wondered if Andrew had even been listening. “So, what do you think, Little Man?”

“I dunno,” Andrew shrugged. He didn’t want to admit that he was clueless about how talking diamonds with arms related to dignity. He remembered one of his teachers saying he had “potential” because he was good at math. Maybe that’s what Sam was talking about.


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