Two Kinds of Heart

Joe Davis is an Amicus client who was recently released into society after incarceration. He dropped off the following story which is based on some Caribbean folk wisdom. For him, the story is about one of the most important strategies for a successful reentry by someone finishing up a prison sentence – choosing one’s friends wisely. Thanks Joe!

By Joe Davis

There are two kinds of heart in every person; there is the selfish heart and the selfless heart. Finding the proper balance between the two is the struggle to become self constructive instead of self destructive.

Once upon a time, long ago, a fisherman caught two different kinds of crabs. These two crab varieties were separated not by the color of their claws or the size of their jaws but by the differing content of their hearts.

The fisherman captured the crabs and placed the first group in a bucket upon the dock, and then put the second group in a different bucket. Both these buckets were prisons designed to keep the crabs caged up together until it was time for them to be eaten.

Since it was getting late, the fisherman went home to sleep and left the two different kinds of crabs trapped in their prisons, all alone overnight.

Isolated and separated from the sweet surf and sea they began to feel the hatred of living a life full of misery that would not allow them to swim in the ocean and be free. With their prison located only a few feet from freedom, it was torture for them to smell the salt-filled breeze echoed their pain within their songs of pain as they sang and prayed.

The sound of the oceans thunderous waves made them yearn to see their homeland once again; before the morning sun came and sent them to their deaths. The moon shone overhead, illuminating the poor crabs, each one wondering why it would have to die.

Now what do you suppose the fisherman saw at dawn’s first light when he returned to the dock?  One bucket was still full of angry crabs while the other held no crabs at all.  “How could this be?” the fisherman wondered aloud.

An old man heard his question and offered an answer based on what he had seen in both crabs and their human counterparts.  He told the fisherman that the first bucket was still full because it was filled with a group of selfish-hearted crabs, who hated one another. Each crab thought of itself as much more important than any of the others and couldn’t stand to see another crab finding freedom while it remained in the bucket. Every time one crab would climb to the top of the bucket, the others would get jealous and pull that one down again.  This pattern continued, ensuring that they were all kept in bondage.

The second bucket, the one the fisherman found empty was truly a prison without prisoners. It had once held a group of selfless prisoners, who truly loved one another, treating each as if they were brothers.

The crabs in this now-empty bucket existed in harmony, helping one another out for the betterment of all. They figured that if they lifted one of their number up to the top of the bucket  and into freedom, then that one could reach down back into the prison and pull the rest of them free.

For by working together they found that they could heal one another’s misery and escape back to the freedom of the sea.

There are two kinds of heart in every person. There is the selfish heart and the selfless heart. Finding the balance between the two is the key to becoming “self constructive” rather than “self destructive” and living a life free from the shackles of one’s own self-slavery.

Always remember, we have the power to choose the thoughts we act on during each moment we find ourselves in.