Grasshopper and Toad appeared to be good friends. People always saw them together. Yet they had never dined at each other’s houses. One day Toad said to Grasshopper, “Dear friend, tomorrow come and dine at my house. My wife and I will prepare a special meal. We will eat it together.”
The next day Grasshopper arrived at Toad’s house. Before sitting down to eat, Toad washed his forelegs and invited Grasshopper to do the same. Grasshopper did so and made a loud noise.
“Friend Grasshopper, can’t you leave your chirping behind? I cannot eat with such a noise,” said Toad.
Grasshopper tried to eat without rubbing his forelegs together, but it was impossible. Each time he gave a chirp, Toad complained and asked him to be quiet. Grasshopper was angry and could not eat. Finally, he said to Toad: “I invite you to my house for dinner, tomorrow.”
The next day, Toad arrived at Grasshopper’s home. As soon as the meal was ready, Grasshopper washed his forelegs, and invited Toad to do the same. Toad did so, and then hopped toward the food.
“You had better go back and wash again,” said Grasshopper. “All that hopping in the dirt has made your forelegs dirty again.”
Toad hopped back to the water jar, washed again, then hopped back to the table, and was ready to reach out for some food from one of the platters when Grasshopper stopped him: “Please don’t put your dirty paws into the food. Go and wash them again.”
Toad was furious. “You just don’t want me to eat with you!” he cried. “You know very well that I must use my paws and forelegs in hopping about. I cannot help it if they get a bit dirty between the water jar and the table.”
Grasshopper responded, “You are the one who started it yesterday. You know I cannot rub my forelegs together without making a noise.”
From then on, they were no longer friends.
Moral: If you wish to have true friendship with someone, learn to accept each other’s faults, as well as each other’s good qualities.
One key trait of critical thinkers is the ability to tolerate the flaws of others. Tolerance seems to be related to experience, too, since the whole idea is this: We learn to tolerate the limitations of others, because we have realized some limitations of our own. This is reminiscent of Einstein’s observation that the ability to climb a tree may not be the best test of the abilities of a fish. Grasshopper and toad fail to understand tolerance in this African Folktale.