Their smooth heads caught the morning sun's light. They'd come to try and convince their king that joining their religion would be good for the people. How could they possibly know what was good for all people? They had never ruled, had never made decisions with hundreds of thousands of lives in the balance. At times it was too much, he would hide in his chambers only allowing his most trusted servants to see him, and he would weep. Ruling was like trying to stand on one foot atop a mountain amid a raging storm.
He motioned with his hand, telling the monks they could sit up. They'd bowed long enough. "I assume you've not given up this idea."
"It's true." Said a monk.
The king nodded. What good would joining their system of belief do? What harm could come from it? Unity? Maybe. Division? Likely. The question to consider was how many of his subjects would resist. If only one person refused to join the religion there would be strife. Even a single member of a single family could be the seed of a major problem.
"You put me in a position I do not enjoy. Needing to chose between sides." He shook his head.
"My Lord, if I may?" A monk ventured.
"Mm." He nodded. "Go on."
The monk rose to a knee. "You make choices every day, you're continually choosing between one thing and another. You chose this food to eat over that one. This robe to wear instead of another. You select some words and not others. Your every action is a selection."
The king smiled. "Your view is too simple. I do chose, yes, but if I decide to follow your religion I'll be choosing for my people. I have not been a loved ruler for so long by taking from them what is theirs by right, but giving to them and protecting those rights."
"My Lord, we're all one people."
"You'll find no argument from me on that."
"Then we ought all follow the same path." Said the monk.
The king shook his head. "That is where you're mistaken. Should we all be farmers too? Who would scribe? Ah, then we ought to all be scribes, mm? Then who would farm? I need not go on, you see the issue, surely. The eyes do not do what the hands do, the hands do not do what the feet do. All one, indeed. It is my role to ensure you may practice your religion, and your job--it seems--is to continually try and convince me of the merits of your path. Thank you, but I must decline. Go in peace. I'm sure we'll speak again."
The monks left. The king watched their smooth heads bob in unison. All one, he thought. There was truth to that. And yet he sat on a throne, and they did not.