The following is excerpted from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, 1943.

It was then that the fox appeared. Good morning,” said the fox.

“Good morning,” the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing. “Who are you?” he asked, and added, “You are very pretty to look at.”

“I am a fox,” the fox said.

“Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”

“I cannot play with you,” the fox said. “I am not tamed.”

“I am looking for friends. What does that mean—‘tame’?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”

“My life is very monotonous,” he said. “I hunt chickens, men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder?…You have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

“If you want a friend, please tame me…”

“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.

[At this point, the little prince goes off and, over time, returns to tame the fox. He returns…]

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “Here is my secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye… Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

This children’s story comes from a French pilot downed in the Sahara a thousand miles from help. The little prince learned from the fox what is important in life. Recent events in Buffalo, New York, sent me searching for this fable once again—for comfort.

Fr. J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Public Service at DePaul University and Values Director for Depaul International, an organization that serves homeless people in seven countries.