A poor farmer had a friend who was famous for the wonderful apple he grew.
One day, his friend gave the farmer a young apple tree and told him to take it home and plant it.
The farmer was pleased with the gift, but when he got home he did not know where to plant it.
He was afraid that if he planted the tree near the road, strangers would steal the fruit. If he planted the tree in one of his field, his neighbours would come at night and steal some of the apples. If he planted the tree near his house, his children would take the fruit.
Finally he planted the tree in his wood where no one could see it. But without sunlight and good soil, the tree soon died.
Later the friend asked the farmer why he had planted the tree in such a poor place. “What’s the difference?” The farmer said angrily. “If I had planted the tree near the road, strangers would have stolen the fruit.
If I had planted the tree in one of my field, my neighbors would have come at night and stolen some of the apples. If I had planted it near my house, my own children would have taken the fruit.”
“Yes,” said the friend, “but at least someone could have enjoyed the fruit. Now you not only have robbed everyone of the fruit, but also you have destroyed a good apple tree!”