A wild horse can be tamed but one can never put a bridle on a tiger. Why is that? Because in a tiger, there is a wicked, cruel and incorrigible force, so that we cannot expect anything good from him and have to destroy him to prevent him from doing harm. But the wild horse, on the other hand, however unmanageable and skittish he may be to begin with, can be controlled with a little effort and patience. In time he learns to obey and even love us, and in the end he will of his own accord offer his mouth to the bit that is given to him.
In men too there are rebellious and unmanageable desires and impulses, but these things are rarely uncontrollable like the tiger. They are more often like the wild horse: to be broken in they need a bridle; and the best bridle is the one you put on them yourself, the one called self – control.
In a town in the north of France there once lived a boy who was frank by nature but impetuous and always liable to lose his temper. His teacher said to him one day: ” Which do you think is more difficult for a strong boy like you, to give blow for blow and to let fly your fist in the face of a friend who insults you or at that moment to keep your fist in your pocket?” ” To keep it in my pocket,” he replied. ” And which do you think is more worthy of a brave boy like you, to do the easire or the more difficult thing?” ” The more difficult thing,” he said after a moment’s hesitation. ” Well then, try to do it the next time you get an opportunity.” Some time later, the young boy came to tell his teacher, not without legitimate pride, that he ahd been able to do, ” the more difficult thing.” He said:
” One of my co-mates, who is known for his bad temper, struck me in a moment of anger. Since he knows that normally I am not one to forgive and that I have a strong arm, he was preparing to defend himself, when I remembered what you had told me. It was harder for me than I thought, but I put my fist in my pocket. And as soon as I did that, i felt no more anger in me, I only felt sorry for my friend. So I held out my hand to him. That surprised him so much that he stood looking at me for a moment, open-mouthed, without speaking. Then he seized my hand, shook it vigourously and said with emotion: ” Now you can do what you like with me, I am your friend forever.” The boy had controlled his anger.
It should not be thought, however, that we have a high regard for a training which weakens the character by depriving it of all its drive an vigour. When we put a bridle on a wild horse, we do not want the bit to tear his mouth and break his teeth. And if we want him to do his work well, we must tighten the reins to guide him, but we must not pull on them so hard that he can no longer move forward. We too should learn to control ourselves, and if a tough bridle is needed to control our nature, do not complain.