Fisherman & Gun, Germs, and Steel

One of my favorite story is of an executive of a big company who goes to a resort town for a vacation. There he sees a fisherman with a few fish walking away from beach. Executive asks fisherman where he was going. Fisherman replies that he has caught enough fish for the day, now he will go sell these fish to fish vendor in market. Executive asks it is early in morning why don’t you catch more fishes. Fisherman says he has caught enough for him and his family. Executive asks so what he plans to do for rest of his day. Fisherman replies that he will go home, play with his kids, go for a walk with his wife, and hang out with friends in the evening.

Executive says to fisherman but if you stay a little longer, you can catch some more fishes. Then use that extra money to buy a bigger boat. Then catch even more fishes, so on until you have a fleet of fishing boats. Then he can negotiate better terms with fish vendors and make more money. Then he can open his own fish processing plant and sell fishes directly to many vendors all over the country. Then he will be rich.

Fisherman asks how long will it take, executive replies maybe 15 or 20 years. Fisherman asks then what he will do when he is rich. Executive says that then he can relax, play with his kids or at this point grand kids, go for walks with his wife, hang out with his friends. Fisherman just smiles.

This parable is meant to say that one doesn’t need a lot to enjoy life.

I have been reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It is fascinating book. This book discusses how some societies and cultures came to dominate the world while others were subjugated to slavery and destruction. While there are many reasons for it, but one of the main reason seems to be that some cultures encouraged greed. That led to wars in addition to innovations. Which led to taking away resources from cultures that didn’t engage in greed or war.

So now I wonder what would happen in real life in this story. Perhaps executive will see that as an opportunity to expand his firms operations. Might buy big fishing boats and hire local fisherman to work for his firm. Because of his scale, he might be able to undercut the fisherman and force him to work longer or even quit fishing. Perhaps fisherman will become an employee of executive’s fishing company.

I guess the point is we romanticize simple life but sadly it is not possible anymore.

Leave a Reply