What does this story mean? People go through distinct stages of moral development. The first stage is based on selfishness. People make decisions in order to obtain pleasure, security, power, possessions, or status, and they follow rules only to avoid punishment. The ferryboat captain represents the stage one leader who is out for himself and doing whatever he can get away with.
The second stage is the adoption of society’s norms and values. Good behavior is fulfilling the duties and obligations of the organization. People at this stage enforce laws and regulations. The boy represents stage two, subjecting the girl to his and society’s values.
Stage three, the highest stage, reflects principles that transcend oneself and social rules. Behavior is motivated by the desire to develop and give to others. Leaders at stage three accept that individuals have different values, and they encourage each person’s unique development. Their views on how best to serve the larger good are based on personal observation and reflection rather than on prevailing orthodoxy.
The first hermit is an empowering leader. He gives away control. The only way for the girl to grow, mature, and become a better person is to make decisions for herself. He treats the girl as a full adult. He accepts her choices unconditionally. The first hermit represents a style opposite to that of the boy, who is judgmental and wishes to control the girl’s behavior to meet his needs and standards. If you disliked the first hermit, you may find it hard to empower others.
The second hermit exemplifies the servant leader. He demonstrates selflessness, generosity, brotherly love, and high moral character. He recognizes the...