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The Mouse Trap

December 15, 2014

The word “Ebola” has been on almost everyone’s lips in the last few months especially after it started affecting people in parts of the world where it was never expected to touch. I have to admit that when I first heard of the disease a few years ago, I never thought it would be such a serious threat to the rest of the world since it was just in West Africa. After all, I lived (still do) in East Africa and since I was not planning on going anywhere beyond my region, I believed there was no way I would ever encounter the disease.

Fast forward to the second half of 2014, and not only is almost every airport in the world on high alert regarding the disease, but most border points have been screening all visitors coming into their countries for the disease. More awareness campaigns about the disease and how to avoid it/contract it are being run in places thousands of kilometers away from where the disease was originally discovered.

Why is this? (In my view) Because finally the powers that be have realized that the disease is not a respector of persons. It will attack a black person the same way it will attack a colored person. Well, the only difference is that when it comes to treatment, let’s just say a couple of black people have died because apparently the test drug could not work on black skin. Well, not just black people have died but a couple of white people have passed-on too. In other words, we can't ignore the disease any more by assuming that it will only affect those in certain areas. Adopting this kind of a mentality is a great risk to you and those around you.

This turn of events reminded me of a fable I read a while back about a mouse. I can’t quite remember who originally wrote it but the truth is, we can all learn from it. Here goes…

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. Soon enough he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning:

‘There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap 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 since it is a mousetrap, it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the goat and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The goat 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 mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap 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 mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap 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 even though she was treated, she returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard to get the soup's main Ingredient. Needless to say, the chicken was no more.

Even though the chicken had died in order to produce the antidote for the farmer’s wife’s fever, it didn’t seem to work and unfortunately the wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock.

This being the case, to feed them, the farmer had to get food for them and so he butchered the goat. Even with all her friends and neighbours surrounding her, the farmer's wife did not get well and unfortunately she died.

So many people came for her funeral, and this being an African family the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. Besides, it was their culture to slaughter a cow for such events.

As all this was happening, the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. The trap that was initially bought to snare him had not only caused the death of the lady of the house but it had taken the lives of all his fellow animals.

So, what is the moral of this fable? I would put it this way; the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, keep this in mind; even when the least one among us is threatened, we are all at risk.

Though this is a secret many may not have discovered, our lives are inter-woven together. Each one of us is a vital piece in someone else’s puzzle of life. As we are all involved in this journey called life, we must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

Imagine how different things would be if we all had this mindset, be it in the office where you work, or while driving on the streets, or shopping at the market, etc. Regardless of where we are, what we do and who we do it with, if we tune our minds to think that what affects the other person could very well affect us too, then we will be more considerate of each other and be more concerned with each other whenever things are not going on very well for them.

So, if you are an employee and have been adopting an "I don't care as long as I get my salary" kind of attitude while you watch your fellow employees misbehaving and doing nothing about it, be very careful because when the axe hits, it might hit you too. Remember, if the company does not perform well, your neck will be on the line too because if there is no money to pay salaries it doesn't matter how good you are but you too will be laid off. Worse still, the company could be closed affecting alot more than just those of your fellow employees you were ignoring.

If it is at home, don't ignore those of your family members who seem not to have it together. Don't ignore that neighbor who you know for a fact does drugs. He might just start selling drugs to your young teens, then at that time what will you do?

As you go about your life in the coming week, ask yourself this question; am I ignoring the "red flags" clearly raised by my neighbours/workmates/family/friends? Am I ignoring things I should be concerned about? Am I looking out for other people's welfare?

Be like Charles de Lint who said, “I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”

Wishing you all an inter-woven week.

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 14h December, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"



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