Why We Teach The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’ Story to the Very Young

by Bob Schwartz

Children sometimes lie, and some of us lied as children. It happens. That’s why we teach The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’ story early. The simple and useful lesson: There will come a time when it is very important to be believed—to avoid getting eaten by a wolf—and no one will believe you.

Here is the story, as found in Aesop’s Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs:

The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’

There was a boy tending the sheep who would continually go up to the embankment and shout, ‘Help, there’s a wolf!’ The farmers would all come running only to find out that what the boy said was not true. Then one day there really was a wolf, but when the boy shouted they didn’t believe him and no one came to his aid. The whole flock was eaten by the wolf. The story shows that this is how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them.

Some never learn that lesson, because they always get away with (or think they get away with) lying all the time. Manchild Trump is one of those.

Maybe, just maybe, he is growing to regret no one believing him. In the middle of a distasteful controversy about his failure to deal with the families of fallen soldiers, it is reported that he just told one widow, “He knew what he signed up for.” Trump denies saying this. Most Americans don’t believe him.

It’s not clear that this controversy is “the thing” that politically wounds Trump among his docile and subservient Republican colleagues. But if it is, Trump may finally learn the lesson of the story. Unless, of course, he always thought the story was only about the wolf.