The Parable of the Mouse Trap

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Nov 13, 2010

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."
Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes a story captures our attention more than a well-reasoned argument. Here is one you will not soon forget. 

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. What food might this contain? The mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. 

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: "There is a mouse trap in the house! There is a mouse trap in the house!" 

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it." 

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mouse trap in the house! There is a mouse trap in the house!" 

The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers." 

The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mouse trap in the house! There is a mouse trap in the house!" The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose." 

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mouse trap alone. 

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house - like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever. 

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. 

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. 

So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. 

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. 

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember - when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. 

When I first heard this story years ago it stuck with me, and I remembered its impact when I recently came across it the other day. From the "No Man is an Island" poem by John Donne to the "Parable of the Good Samaritan" by Jesus, we are reminded again and again of the responsibility we have to each other. 

When an Amber Alert goes out, we want to do everything we can to help. When the bicycles fall off the back of the mini-van into the middle of the highway, we immediately pull over and try to help the desperate motorist who frantically wants to avoid a worse accident. 

There is something imbedded in the human condition which predisposes us to get involved. One of the great stories that came out of World War II was the ten Boom clockmaker family who helped hide scores of Jews in Holland. Corrie ten Boom wrote her family story in the book "The Hiding Place." Evie and I felt the drama and pathos of that place when we visited it in Haarlem in the Netherlands some years ago. 

Of course, any one of us is capable of ignoring those in need. Abraham Lincoln reminded us, "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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