When Josef Stalin was on his deathbed
he called in two likely successors, to test which one of the two
had a better knack for ruling the country.
He ordered two birds to be brought
in and presented one bird to each of the two candidates.
The first one grabbed the bird, but
was so afraid that the bird could free himself from his grip and
fly away that he squeezed his hand very hard, and when he opened
his palm, the bird was dead.
Seeing the disapproving look on Stalin's
face and being afraid to repeat his rival's mistake, the second
candidate loosened his grip so much that the bird freed himself
and flew away.
Stalin looked at both of them scornfully. "Bring
me a bird!" he ordered.
Stalin took the bird by its legs and
slowly, one by one, he plucked all the feathers from the bird's
Then he opened his palm. The bird was
laying there naked, shivering, helpless.
Stalin looked at him, smiled gently
and said, "You see... and he is even thankful for the human
warmth coming out of my palm."