Aesop's Fables
No Act of Kindness
is Ever Wasted

Aesop's Moral:
No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted

Another way of saying it:
Do unto others as you hope to have them do unto you!

Another way of looking at it:
Even the weak have something to offer the strong.

Aesop's Fable:

The Lion and the Mouse

A Lion was awakened by a Mouse running over his face.

Rising up angrily, the Lion caught the Mouse and was about to kill him, when the Mouse begged, "If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness."

The Lion laughed at the idea of the Mouse being able to repay a favor but let him go.

Later, the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him with strong ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing the Lion's roar, came and gnawed the rope with his teeth and set him free, exclaiming:

"You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you; now you know that it is possible for even a tiny Mouse to do something for a Lion."

The Lion and the Mouse
I'm skeptical of how well the traditional translators did with the moral of this one. To me the message is not to be cruel to those who aren't as big/strong/old/powerful as you, if for no other reason than someday the roles might be reversed!

It's a message suited for big kids regarding their younger siblings. "Hey, someday Junior might be bigger than you!"

But that means it puts no value on niceness for niceness' sake. Is that the message you want to be sending?

Another thought:
There's also a lesson on perspective to be had here. To the Lion, sparing Mouse's life was a matter of tiny consequence, the mouse being a little nothing. But in fact, the two animals end up being rather equal, and the value of their lives to each of them are equal.

No act of kindness is ever wasted.

Webmaster's note: Author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney won the 2010 Caldecott Medal for his book version of The Lion and the Mouse.

How to use Aesop's Fables.

More stories with morals.

Storytelling to improve behavior.

'No act of kindness is ever wasted.' Image from The Æsop for Children, pictures by Milo Winter

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