The parable of the two printers
I wrote this the other day, inspired by Peter Rollins’ parable competition. Don’t think I’ll win or anything, but some might like this little attempt at a parable.
The Tale of the Two Printers
Once there were two printers, sitting on the same desk. One could print only black, while the other could print colour. They looked quite similar though, and were good friends.
One day, as they were talking, a topic came up that they had often discussed before.
“I don’t believe there is such a thing as colour!”, whirred the black printer loudly. “I’ve printed out the pages you say are colour, but they are as exclusively black as any of my originals.”
“Just because you can’t print it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist,” said the colour printer.
“And I don’t like the way you colour printers insinuate that black somehow is worse than colour,” the black printer said, hurt and annoyed in equal measure by the words just said and words said before.
“Oh, I don’t do that! I love black!”, the colour printer protested. “It’s an extremely important part of the full spectrum of colours. If fact, I’ve got a whole cartridge only with black ink.”
“I don’t see the point of all these colours,” said the black printer. “Whatever they are, I’ve been fine all my life without them. Even on the shelf.”
“You know, I believe you when you say that. We both know lots of other black printers that are doing just fine and some days, all I print is black,” the colour printer said seriously. “But I guess what I’m saying is this: As important and great as black is on it’s own, it is only together with the colours that it truly makes sense.”
“But what you say doesn’t make sense!”, the black printer shouted. “There is no colour! As hard as I try, I’ve never printed a single page that wasn’t entirely black!”
The colour printer sighed mechanically (you know the sound – printers often sigh when you turn them off and, especially, on) and said calmly, “We could sit here all day and go back and forth until one of us got a paper jam. And we’d get nowhere. All I can say is that when you print colour, the pages not only becomes much more beautiful, but the black on them does too. I’m sad that you don’t print colour, but I’m your friend anyway.”
The black printer flashed his display and concurred, “Yeah, that’s true.”