I would like to share with you a story with a lesson about the importance of words. Like Aesop’s Fables, only this story happened in real life. Ready?
Once upon a time there was a lovely maiden who was married to a pilot. He was gallant and strong and handsome and everyone in the land wondered why he chose to marry the maiden. But alas, he loved her and took her to live with him in a land of warriors and large, expensive aircraft.
Often, the maiden would go take the pilot his lunch while he was at work because he would awake so early in the mornings, she thought she’d die if she woke to make him lunch before her first cup of coffee.
One day she noticed that many men would salute him when they walked by and addressed him as “sir.”
“Why do they do this?” she asked.
The pilot explained that because he was an officer, he held a higher rank that demanded such respect. “Enlisted men must salute officers,” he said.
“Even if they are your friend?” she inquired.
“Well…” The pilot paused. “Officers and enlisted men must maintain professional relationships, whether at work or not. The formality of Marine Corp customs, traditions, and ranks must never be compromised. Fraternization is frowned upon.”
Later that day, the maiden was speaking with her mother about everything she was learning about the Marine Corp and how the pilot had an answer for her every question. As she was trying to describe to her mother the difference between officers and enlisted men, she tried hard to remember exactly what the pilot had told her.
“Officers and enlisted men are kind to one another, there is mutual respect, but they must be careful to maintain rank so as not to fornicate.”
The maiden’s mother said, “Dear maiden, are you sure that’s what the pilot said?”
As the maiden began to think on her words, she realized that this was not what the pilot had told her and she remembered that the pilot had used the word fraternize, not fornicate.
“Dear mother,” the maiden replied, “I meant to say fraternize!”
Epilogue: Fornication between the ranks, for the record, is also frowned upon.
*This fable is based on a true story.*