Many ages ago a jester performed the song that follows in the presence of his king, and in the presence of many of the king's subjects. (The story is meant to be read after listening to the song)
All others present in and around the court-including the jester-stood silent, awaiting the only response they believed the king could offer. After all, the laws of the kingdom allowed only one punishment for humiliation of the king: public execution.
But there was an unexpected turn of events in the privacy of the king's chamber: after looking briefly at himself in the mirror and scoffing, he fell to his knees and wept. He wept profusely, and cursed the crown that had just fallen off his head, spinning, tumbling, and finally coming to rest before him. Shortly thereafter, the king gathered himself, placed the cursed crown back upon his head and instructed his guards to bring the jester to his chambers, where the two men were to be left in private.
"Sit down," commanded the king as the jester entered moments later, and the jester did so-ever so respectfully. The king turned his back to the jester and paced as he continued, careful not to look the jester in the eyes. "You understand I must have you executed, I assume."
The jester cleared his throat gently, "Yes, my lord."
The king went on, "And I'm assuming you knew long before performing your song that your public execution to follow cause a number of my subjects to riot, and possibly send our kingdom into a state of civil war?"
The jester's chin sunk down a bit, "I knew it was a likely outcome, my lord, yes."
The king slowly approached the bench the jester was seated upon, and sat down next to him. The king's tone was noticeably softer as he asked, "Do you consider yourself a martyr?"
With no hesitation at all, the jester replied, "No, my lord, just a person who can no longer bear to witness the suffering of our kingdom and its subjects."
The king continued, "And if I were to make you king, would you call for your own execution?"
Again without hesitation the jester answered, "Yes, of course, my lord...the law must be carried out, lest our kingdom fall into a state of chaos. Besides, I'd rather die than be king."
"As would I," mumbled the king. With that, the king patted his thighs and stood up, smiling ever so slightly. "Good, my friend, very good. It is settled then...tonight you and I shall die together."
The jester stood up, a pleading expression upon his face, "My lord, you need not--"
The king grasped the jester's hands warmly and spoke into his eyes, "The law must be carried out, as you said--I have committed treason against our kingdom. I have drank the blood of its subjects and reveled in my madness. Die with me, my friend--a peaceful death--a death that will restore honor and freedom to our people who so desperately need hope for better days."
The jester placed his hands upon the king's shoulders and said, "But you have no children to leave the kingdom to; who shall rule over our people?"
The king smiled again, a pure and genuine smile, and he embraced the jester. "We shall leave that to providence, my dear friend. Our kingdom is filled with good people--honorable people--people who value love and respect toward one another. They will find a way, I know they will."
The jester smiled and wiped a subtle tear of joy from the corner of his eye. "Then yes, it is settled, my precious king...tonight we die together, and become a light to shine upon our kingdom...we restore hope and freedom to all by our honorable example." King and jester embraced once more.
With genuine enthusiasm, the king unlocked his chamber's door and called for his guards. He instructed the guards to gather all available servants of the court and distribute his wine to all subjects that were present. "Let no one leave thirsty!" he shouted to the guards as the shuffled off down the halls to carry out his orders.
As the wine was being passed along, and more subjects gathered, the king had a second throne brought out and placed next to his, motioning toward the jester that he should be seated there. Shortly thereafter, the hustling activity subsided and the king received word that all present had received a cup of wine that they were instructed to not drink until the king gave word. He sat down upon his throne, aimed a grateful smile toward the jester seated next to him, and began his speech:
"My good people, I suspect most of you have gathered here expecting to witness a public execution. You will not be disappointed! The good jester here, seated next to me, has humiliated the king, as
you know. Also, as you know, the laws of our kingdom require his public execution. Despite his
lack of respect for the crown, his words were sincere, and he spoke what has needed to be spoken
in our kingdom for many years now--saying the things no one else would dare. In doing so, he
broke my heart deeply--I do believe I felt it bleed from inside--and he caused me to see things I
was unable to see before he sang."
The king then stood up and paced among the gathered subjects and servants, making eye contact with several as he continued his speech:
"I asked our good jester a simple question: if I made him king, would he carry out his own
execution? He did not hesitate in telling me he would indeed, for the law must be carried
out lest our kingdom fall into a state of chaos. He also told me he'd rather die than be king.
Tonight, he shall get his wish--on both counts--and it is my sincere hope that tonight, all of us
together, with one voice, will celebrate the beginning of a new era for our kingdom--a happy
and prosperous one. But before I crown our new king, I must make one final decree: that the
laws of our kingdom must apply to ALL its citizens--even to the king himself, no one shall
be exempt, from this day forward."
With that, the king approached the jester slowly, placed his crown upon the jester's head, and graciously knelt before him. The jester looked graciously into the king's eyes, not knowing whether he should speak. He chose silence for the moment. The king then stood up and faced the court, noting the thoughtful expressions that lie upon the faces of what were his subjects just a moment ago. He spoke again:
"My dear friends, for the first time since you've known me, I now speak to you as a person rather
than a king. I speak as a person so deeply ashamed that I would not even ask for forgiveness. I
allowed my mind to be poisoned by the weight of power, and, in turn, allowed our beloved
kingdom to be poisoned along with it--from the elderly to the infants, from the tree branch to the
soil of our land which once bore lovely fruit, but does so no more. I drank the blood of my
subjects, and gave nothing but cruelness and tyranny to you. In a word, I committed treason
against our kingdom, and its people. As you know, the law for this crime requires my public execution. You shall not be disappointed."
A collective gasp rang throughout the kingdom that second. The former king stood before his former throne and motioned for the once-jester-now-king to stand and speak. The new king spoke as follows:
"My dear people and friends, your former king has spoken well, and his thoughts are my own.
It is our hope that from this night forward, all people of this kingdom find joy and prosperity
with each rising sun. May all whispers of revolution be silenced now and forever, may all of
you--from least to greatest--work together in harmony to bring hope back to our beloved
kingdom. Before I lead us in a celebratory toast, I must issue one final decree: that it be
stated clearly in the royal archives your former king died honorably out of love for his
kingdom and its subjects, though he could not be forgiven. I would also ask, not as king, but
as a friend and fellow subject--that after our passing, you bury me as close as possible to
the former king; this in the hopes that future generations of our kingdom might remember
our sincere desire for everyone to live together in mutual love and respect."
Both the new and former king sat down, and two servants filled their cups with wine. The former jester and former king smiled softly at one another and shared words with one another for a moment that no one else present could hear. The new king then held his cup of wine high above his head, and waited for the rest of the court to do the same before he continued with his toast:
"Tonight, my people, my dear friends, we make a toast in the name of freedom, love, and
mutual compassion for one another. The former king and I shall drink with you, though for us, it
will be our last. We drink the same wine as you, except that our servants have been instructed
to add just enough poison to our cups to fulfill the requirements of the law. May our kingdom
prosper for many days to come."
The former king tapped the former jester's cup with his own, and they stood and embraced one another once more once they'd emptied their cups. The former king then stepped toward the court one last time and spoke to all that were present:
"Never forget this happy night, my friends, this happiest of occasions. Providence shall guide
you, and your love for one another shall always light your way."
The kingdom prospered for countless generations after that day, and they never did manage to find another king.
Thank you all for sticking around, and always remember that #LoveRockPrevails