Week in and week out, a man named Mr. Timothy Harold Edward Bishop wrote a newsletter expressing the woes of the people in his small village who lived under cruel and unjust conditions – outcasts of society for no apparent reason other than having been born into poverty. Each week he would write his piece passionately, not withholding an ounce of truth as to what life was like for the oppressed villages under the current kingdom empire. After making 100 copies each week, he would take them down to the local merchant and leave them in the capable hands of Mr. Brown, collecting the 99 leftover copies from the week before.
After many months went by, one day he sat staring with glazed eyes at his current copy, thinking about how all his work had come down to a circulation of just one faithful reader. Signing his initials at the bottom of the page, this time he decided to wait around the local store and catch a glimpse of the one who read his newsletter. After hours of sitting across the other side of the street, he saw a tall, mysterious man leave the store with a single piece of paper in his hand, not just any piece of paper but that belonging to Timothy.
He chased after the man and followed him to a small house just outside the village. He looked like a humble man himself, certainly not a nobleman or kind that would have reputation among men. Timothy walked home disheartened thinking, ‘how could all this work amount to nothing at all?’ He decided at that precise moment that he would write no longer, saying, “my plight has taken flight”, even finding himself irritated by his very clever wording of defeat.
The next week rolled by, and then the next, and all Timothy could do was stare at his desk from his bed where he decided to spend the rest of his days, under the blanket where his time was better spent. ‘Why waste my time writing for one man who was no better off than me?’ he thought.
Suddenly, he heard a knock from the front door. He couldn’t even pull himself up out of bed to see who it was. “Go away,” he shouted. “I have no voice left. It has been wasted and will never return.”
Despite his declaration, the knock persisted and persisted until Timothy ripped the door open and shouted, “Are you deaf?” There stood the man who had read every newsletter that Timothy had written.
The man cleared his throat and spoke with an eloquent tone, “I am sorry to bother you sir, I can see that I have caught you at a bad time. My name is Henry and I was looking for the writer of this paper,” holding up Timothy’s last issue.
“I am he,” said Timothy.
Henry looked him up and down. “I see. Well, I just wanted to ask why you have not written the latest copy?”
“I am finished with all that, sir. I am broadening my horizons and heading back to bed, so if you don’t mind,” he replied, closing the door.
Henry quickly placed his foot in the way. “Mr. Bishop, I am a butler and I work for his Majesty the king who reads your newsletter every week.”
Timothy felt blood rush to his head. “I’m sorry, who did you say you work for?”
“The king,” he sharply replied. “You see, Mr. Brown who runs the local store is my cousin and he gave me your newsletter. I thought it was so well written and I could see it was the truth, so I decided to slip it into the king’s newspaper in the hope that he would read it.
Each week, on Thursday, the king’s adviser collects the newspaper from the kitchen table and delivers it to the king. Unbeknown to me, the king now believes that his advisor is the one writing the piece and slipping it into his paper as a way to advise him unofficially – off the record, due to its sensitive nature.”
“Why would he think that?”
Henry hesitated momentarily. “Well, you see, the king’s advisor is a man of the cloth, Bishop Westbury, who advises him on what he should do, thus making decisions about laws and issuing decrees. It seems that there has been a misunderstanding. You sign your newsletter with your initials, T.H.E Bishop, so it appears that when the king reads your letter, it is signed, ‘The Bishop’. The king is about to announce new laws that will free the villages, all thanks to you. I was raised in the village and much of my family still live here. We are forever thankful to you for your dedication and perseverance. Our people are finally free.”
After Henry departed, Timothy sat at his desk and pondered his next piece, when suddenly a title entered his mind, ‘How the voice of one person can make a difference’.
-- By Judah Ayling