In this village, a young man is struggling to find his place in the world. Internally, he is suffering. He has, in his mind, not proven his value and worth. He struggles for the respect of others. In frustration, he decides to challenge the wise man, believing if he defeats the village's most respected person, he will take the wise man's glory and respect. The young man crafts a plan and shares it with his friends.
He says, “I will take a baby bird in my hands and offer it to the great man of knowledge. I will ask the wise man two questions. “What do I have in my hands?” and “Is it alive or dead?”
The young man's challenge was in the second question. "Is the bird alive or dead?" The young man tells his friends that should the wise man answer ‘alive’, the young man will crush the bird to death with his hands and throw in on the ground.
Conversely, if the wise man answers that the bird is dead, the boy shares that he will open his hands and let the bird fly free.
The boy, pleased with the reaction of his friends, and sensing victory, travels through the village to the wise man’s hut. Along the way, a crowd of followers gathers.
Upon arrival, the wise man graciously acknowledges the young boy and encourages him to speak. With defiance, the young adolescent thrusts the bird held within his closed hands before the man and asks—“What do I have in my hands?”
The wise man looks at the boy’s hands and says “ Why, you have a baby bird in your hands.” With this answer the boy defiantly asks, “Is it alive or dead?”
The wise man reflectively locks eyes with the troubled young man and then looking down into the young man's hands and back into the young man's eyes replies “why, that answer lies in your hands”.
(from Mockingbird Education, original author unknown)