After a cursory inspection, the Java master decreed that each monk in the Elephant's Footprint Clan would henceforth catch his own fish, harvest his own rice, sew his own robes, and cobble his own shoes.
Within a month, the monks were half-naked and severely malnourished. Deadlines began to slip. The abbot implored the Java master to reconsider his decision.
“Very well,” said the Java master. “Every Thursday, have them also burn their robes and shoes, and cast their rice and fish into the river.”
The abbot asked what transgression his clan had committed to merit such punishment.
“Punishment?” said the Java master. “I intended only to reward. Do not the monks of the Elephant’s Footprint relish their independence and self-sufficiency? Their code tells me as much:
“Each has authored essentially the same Data Access Objects and Value Objects as his neighbors. Each has crafted his own String utilities and configuration file parsers. Each has taken exquisite pains to design, implement, integrate, test, debug, repair, and extend that which he might merely have consumed from one of his brethren.
“Shall I infer incompetence? If so, then every last monk of the Elephant’s Footprint must be cast out of the monastery.
“Shall I infer willful ignorance? If so, tradition demands that they blind themselves with nettles, and then be cast out.
“Shall I infer contempt for the preciousness of time? If so, the dungeons await...
“But no,” concluded the Java master. “I shall instead infer pride—pride taken by each that his code is superior to that of his brethren. Pride is one of the Four Seeds of Greatness, and must be encouraged. Let the Elephant’s Footprint hone its skills with shears and spears, with needles and sickles, until every monk may be likewise proud of his fine robes and the bounty on his plate!”
“There will be little time left for coding,” observed the abbot. “And the Emperor is quite literal in his interpretation of the worddeadline.”
The master nodded. “The merchant, lately ruined, knows only the pangs of loss. Whereas the old hermit extols the virtues of austerity, and will not change his state. Yet are these not the same man, separated only by a gulf of years?”
Thus was the Elephant’s Footprint spared twice and corrected.