The Legend of the Soup Stirrers

By Elmer Proudly

Once upon a time there was a fine group of people who loved to make and eat soup together.

The soup making was a happy group activity. The people would gather in the large kitchen of their common house. They circled the stove which had the soup kettle on it. It was great fun to watch the ingredients put into the kettle. Anticipation grew as the soup's aroma filled the room.

They took turns stirring the soup. Some of the group would stir. The others would watch and enjoy the thoughts of eating the soup together.

For a long time it was a pleasant experience. All of the group happily entered into the shared soup-making and soup-eating occasions. They could hardly wait for the next meeting in the soup kitchen.

But in the course of events it came to pass that some of the soup makers heard about other soup-making groups meeting nearby. They decided to visit those other groups. They discovered that some of them stirred their soup to the right. Others found that the groups which they visited stirred their soup to the left.

Up to that moment our soup-makers had never really thought about which way to stir the soup. As long as it was stirred sufficiently, cooked well, and served to all in the kitchen everything worked out fine. They made the soup, ate the soup, shared it with any visitors who happened to be present.

But after witnessing the right and left handed stirring methods some of the group began to think that surely the direction of the stirring was the key factor in proper soup making.

So, quiet naturally, some folks lined up in a right-handed soup stirring party. Not to be outdone, other folks lined up in a left-handed soup stirring party. A good many of the group did not get in either line--in fact, they wondered what all the stir was about.

It should have ended right there. Could have, actually, except that the leaders of the right-handers got their ladles and began to stir with vigor to the right. As soon as they saw that, the left-handers grabbed their ladles and, with equal vigor, stirred to the left.

Well, of course, the soup got stirred. In fact it was stirred so vigorously that soup flew all over the kitchen. The people who had come to enjoy the soup making atmosphere and to be fed a good nourishing meal were instead spattered and burned by the splashing soup. They really did not want to leave the kitchen. They were hungry. But it seemed that the soup stirrers, right-handers and left-handers as well, had forgotten that any one else was in the kitchen.

They kept on stirring. Right to left. Left to right. The kettle went dry. The bottom burned black. Finally the non-stirrers started home. Behind them they heard the shouts:

Stay with us. Stir with us. You will get great soup with the right-handed stir.

Stay with us. Stir with us. You will get great soup with the left-handed stir.

The hungry folks scratched their heads, rubbed their empty stomachs and wondered if there was not something more important in soup making and serving than the direction of the stirring.

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