Once upon a time there was a kingdom ruled by a loving and beloved King. He ruled his subjects kindly and thought of each of them as a child. Likewise, his people fondly regarded their King as another father. Every subject within the King’s domain knew that they could approach their leader with any concern and he would listen to them with open ears and judge them fairly. Everything was peaceful and perfect.

One day, the King received word that the tyrannical empire across the mountains wished to conquer his kingdom and enslave his people. Terrified by this news and thinking only of his people the King decided to traverse the mountains and reason with the unreasonable emperor that threatened the lives of his subjects—his children. He left that afternoon.

Soon after the King left, spies from the empire across the mountains infiltrated the peaceful kingdom and poisoned the water supply. Not with deadly toxins but with potent potions of madness. Not long after, the entire kingdom was frantic and corrupted with lunacy. People poured over each other and brawls ended as sporadically as they had begun. No one cared anymore for the sanctity of their realm, they only worried about themselves and their own private delusions. When the King returned triumphant, having successfully bargained peace for his people, he was horrified to see the chaos and corruption that madness devolved his kingdom to. When he reclaimed his throne, his subject—his children no longer trusted him. No one felt like their once mighty king was fit to rule. He no longer seemed to understand their problems like he once had. They all thought him mad. For the sane, in the city of madness, is truly the insane.

Devastated, the King sought the council of medics from across the globe searching for a cure for the plague of madness brought upon his land. He offered all the wealth of the kingdom to anyone who could cure his people. No one could. For madness, you know, is incurable. The King returned to his chamber and looked out at his once majestic dominion. He saw the people scurry about frantic and carefree. In that moment he realized that although they were mad, his people were content. This thought comforted him and brought him peace for the night.

In the morning when the King woke he noticed a bottle on his desk. The bottle contained a liquid as black and thick as death itself. Beside the bottle lay a note scratched onto an old and worn our piece of parchment which read: Run, be free, and your people will die; drink and join your people in madness and in death; cross the mountains, be a slave, and your people will live.

The King thought long and hard, weighing each option fully. He knew that if he ran he would live but his people would suffer the wrath of the tyrant across the mountains. He hoped that if he drank the liquid he would once again regain the love and trust of his people— even if they were all to die. He prayed that if he sold himself to slavery that the tyrant would keep his word. The King realized he could not win, and so he chose. He chose to be a slave and live his life serving the man who condemned his subjects— his children. Every day he wondered if they were still alive. Every day he wondered if they were still happy. And every day he wondered if he made the right decision. Secretly he knew he didn’t.

What do you think this story is really about?

Who are you in it?

If you were the king which option would you choose?