A small boy at summer camp received a large package of cookies in the mail from his mother. He ate a few, then placed the remainder under his bed. The next day, after lunch, he went to his tent to get a cookie. The box was gone.
That afternoon a camp counsellor, who had been told of the theft, saw another boy sitting behind a tree eating the stolen cookies. “That young man,” he said to himself, “must be taught not to steal.”
He returned to the group and sought out the boy whose cookies had been stolen. “Billy,” he said, “I know who stole your cookies. Will you help me teach him a lesson?”
“Well, yes–but aren’t you going to punish him?” asked the puzzled boy.
“No, that would only make him resent and hate you,” the counsellor explained. “I want you to call your mother and ask her to send you another box of cookies.”
The boy did as the counsellor asked and a few days later received another box of cookies in the mail.
“Now,” said the counsellor, “the boy who stole your cookies is down by the lake. Go down there and share your cookies with him.”
“But,” protested the boy, “he’s the thief.”
“I know . But try it–see what happens.”
Half an hour later the camp counsellor saw the two come up the hill, arm in arm. The boy who had stolen the cookies was earnestly trying to get the other to accept his jack-knife in payment for the stolen cookies, and the victim was just as earnestly refusing the gift from his new friend, saying that a few old cookies weren’t that important anyway.