Once upon a time, there was a powerful kingdom in a faraway land...
The king was very brave and handsome and rich and powerful and he was well-loved by his entire kingdom. This kingdom was considered the wisest and kindest kingdom in all the land. The king's royal advisors were highly educated and his closest confidants were elders of great wisdom. Whenever the king was met with a particularly troublesome dilemma, he knew he could count on their loyal, but shrewd, advice on how to proceed.
Unfortunately, this king had one major flaw: he didn't think he was very smart.
Oh, he was bright enough to run his kingdom and he had many other gifts attributed to his person, but his apprehension of those who were smarter or more-educated soon turned into distrust, and eventually, dislike. As time went by, this king started demoting those of great intelligence, and began surrounding himself with people who would not threaten his own intellectual sensibilities.
There were some brilliant people in his kingdom -- scientists and philosophers, artists and mathematicians -- but he simply overlooked them. At the very most, he gave them menial tasks to keep them "busy," and marginally employed within his kingdom, but these positions rarely utilized their gifts to the full.
Instead, the king granted positions of power and authority to those whom he deemed "non-threats" to his title and throne: loyal, but common, peasants who did not add to the king's uneasiness over his own lack of education. Oh, many of these peasants were very gifted in various areas and they certainly contributed to his kingdom, but as time went on, the king's decisions began to have an unintended effect...
Those who were very bright or highly educated began to feel unappreciated and unwanted in the stubborn king's empire and so, they left.
They didn't want to leave; at one time, they had been very happy in this kingdom, but they couldn't help feel they were being unfairly punished for something that was beyond their control -- and certainly not worth shame.
Over time, the king began to realize that even though he no longer felt threatened by anyone around him, his kingdom was no longer the wisest or the brightest, either. Indeed, it had become rather mediocre. It soon became apparent to him that without the full spectrum of gifts within his council, day to day life in his kingdom had become dull and mundane. There was no one left to challenge his decisions or prompt him to thoughtful discernment. And so, the once-great king of the once powerful kingdom, fell into obscurity and was forgotten by all.
As iron sharpens iron, so those who challenge us to think -- beyond our own, self-imposed limits -- ultimately produce in us a more effective version of ourselves.
-- Summer Kelly