Selfishness and Guilt

Thinking things through

Philosophy for Juniors

Humfry Hippo
Thoughtful Tales for Little Ones


Selfishness and Guilt




Philosophy for Seniors

A Matter of Life and Death

Human Needs

Humfry hippo moves home

Tale 2 gives an opportunity for children to talk about:

  • Feeling lonely.
  • Looking forward to the arrival of friends.
  • Reacting to strangers – by welcoming them or rejecting them.
  • Being selfish.
  • Feeling and coping with guilt.

Tale 2: This is my pool!

This is Humfry lying in the cool water of the waterhole that has become his new home.

“Hello Humfry!”Humfry is resting. He has fresh water to drink and shade to keep him cool.But there is one thing missing. What do you think that is?

Yes, his old friends. Having fresh water and shade is good, but it is not much fun when you are on your own. Humfry thinks about his friends all the time and wonders if they will come to find him.

Wait, Humfry hears something far away! There are animals approaching. Perhaps his wish is coming true! He sits quietly in the water and listens carefully. He can hear faint mumbles, getting closer and louder.

Who could it be? Who do we think is coming? Is it his friends? Perhaps they have followed him to the new pool? His ears twitch and his tail wiggles in excitement.

He is excited but, sadly, it turns to disappointment! Humfry knows that the newcomers are hippos. But they are strangers…and they are heading for his new waterhole! They must have smelled the clean, fresh water.

He was hoping to save the new waterhole for his friends, but now he might have to share it with strangers. What if his friends come later? Will there be any room for them?

What do you think he should do?

Without a moment’s hesitation, Humfry rushes to the edge of the water, opens his jaws as wide as they will go, and bellows out the loudest and most frightening noise his little body can make. He is determined to keep the pool for his friends and wants to frighten away the newcomers.

But the new hippos don’t go away. They come right up to the edge of the pool and give him a bewildered stare. He begins to feel a little afraid. There are 3 of them and only one of him!

What do you think will happen next?

Humfry is worried that the others will fight him for the pool. With three against one, he would surely lose.

Fortunately, the three hippos had been brought up to have good manners. The lead one of them says to Humfry, “Hello, what’s your name?” Humfry replies, “I am not telling you. What business is it of yours anyway?”

The other hippo says, “Well, my name is Joel, and this is my sister, Flo and our friend Emeka. All we want is a chance to cool off in the pool and have a drink of water – we are very hot and thirsty. May we join you in your pool for a little while?”

What do you think Humfry should do?

Humfry was normally a thoughtful and friendly hippo. But, sadly, today he is not on his best behaviour. He wants to keep the pool for his old friends. So, he summons up all the courage that he has, and yells at the three new hippos, “Go away and leave me in peace!”

The three can see that Humfry is determined to defend the pool, and they do not want a fight. So, they turn around, and walk away leaving Humfry in peace. Humfry is relieved, but then he starts to wonder whether he has done the right thing.

What do you think?

Humfry remembered his parents and how they had taught him the Golden Rule:

“You should always treat others as you would want others to treat you.”

This means that, if you want people to be kind to you, then you should always be kind to them. He knew that, if he had been hot and thirsty, he would have wanted the others to let him come into their pool to have a drink and cool off. So, he now feels guilty and wishes he had acted differently.

What do you think he should he do?

He should probably have chased after them to say sorry and invite them to share his pool. But instead he slips into the water, under the shade of the trees, feeling thoroughly guilty and miserable.

Perhaps there is a Moral to this Story: If you make a mistake, it is usually better to say sorry and try to make amends.

This is a lesson for everyone. Don’t you think…

I lost my first race at school and I was so jealous when the winner received a puppet that I said to myself, “I will carry on until I win a puppet.”     

Svetlana Masterkova

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