Capt. Jake Owens knew the Afghans often communicated through parables, and he had inherited a favorite from a mentor. He holds up an apple and asks, “How many apples do you see?” Most people answer, “One.” “How many seeds are in the apple?” asks Owens. Say you guess eight. “What happens if you plant those eight seeds?” You get eight trees and, of course, all the apples they produce. “So how many apples am I holding in my hand?” Owens asks again.
“I practiced that parable over and over and over with my linguist,” Owens says. “Until I got it right.”