The Investment Scientist

The Consequence of Random Kindness

Posted on: March 23, 2011

This is a story sent to me by a client. It’s about how we live our lives, which I think is more important than how we make our investments.

His name was Fleming, and  he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while  trying to make a living for his family, he heard  a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He  dropped his tools and ran to the bog.

There, mired to his waist in black  muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and  struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved  the lad from what could have been a slow and  terrifying death

The next  day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the  Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly  dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced  himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming  had saved.

‘I want to repay  you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s  life.’

‘No, I can’t accept  payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer  replied waving off the offer. At that moment,  the farmer’s own son came to the door of the  family hovel.

‘Is that your  son?’ the nobleman  asked.

‘Yes,’ the farmer  replied proudly.

‘I’ll make  you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of  education my own son will enjoy If the lad is  anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to  be a man we both will be proud of.’ And that he  did.

Farmer Fleming’s son attended the  very best schools and in time, graduated from  St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London,  and went on to become known throughout the world  as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the  discoverer of  Penicillin.

Years afterward,  the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the  bog was stricken with pneumonia.

What  saved his life this time?  Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman?  Lord Randolph Churchill .. His son’s  name?

Sir Winston  Churchill.

4 Responses to "The Consequence of Random Kindness"

What goes around comes around.

Yep. That pretty mush sums it up.

That’s why I don’t understand why some financial advisors are so bent on screwing their customers.

https://investment-fiduciary.com/2011/03/18/variable-annuity-costs-you-dont-know-you-are-paying/

While cute, this story is apocryphal.

“The popular story of Winston Churchill’s father paying for Fleming’s education after Fleming’s father saved young Winston from death is false. According to the biography, Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution by Kevin Brown, Alexander Fleming, in a letter to his friend and colleague Andre Gratia, described this as “A wondrous fable.” Nor did he save Winston Churchill himself during World War II. Churchill was saved by Lord Moran, using sulphonamides, since he had no experience with penicillin, when Churchill fell ill in Carthage in Tunisia in 1943.”

BTW, Michael, I enjoy your site. Keep up the good work.

I thought it was too much coincidence as well. But, I still like the morale of the story.

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Author

Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC. He is also a regular contributor to Morningstar Advisor and Physicians Practice. To explore a long-term wealth advisory relationship, schedule a discovery meeting (phone call) with him.



You may also get his monthly newsletter, or join his Facebook page for regular wealth management insights. Michael's email is info[at]mzcap.com.

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