Friday Fable: “THE CAT, THE MOUSE AND THE OATH”*

Posted by jlubans on August 17, 2012

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Against people who do not keep their promises. 
There was once a mouse who had fallen into the foam of some fermenting wine or ale. A cat was passing by and heard the mouse squeaking because he couldn't get out. The cat said, 'Why are you making such a ruckus?' The mouse answered, 'Because I cannot get out of here.' The cat said, 'What will you give me if I get you out of there?' The mouse said, 'Whatever you want!' The cat said, 'If I set you free this time, will you come when I call you?' The mouse replied, 'You have my solemn promise.' The cat said, 'Swear an oath!' So the mouse swore an oath. The cat then rescued the mouse and let him go. Then one day the cat was hungry. He went to the mouse's hole and told him to come out. The mouse said, 'I refuse.' The cat said, 'Didn't you swear to me that you would come when I called you?' The mouse said, 'Brother, I was drunk when I swore that oath!'”

While the mouse had an excuse to break his promise, however risible, I am reminded of an administrative colleague who’d agree to staffing or procedural changes - ones meant to buck up the organization’s quality and production - but once the change was met with resistance this administrator would do a U-turn on the decision. This became a predictable behavior whenever the administrative group made an unpopular decision. I suspect it was a passive way of resisting something she tacitly did not buy into.
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Maybe we should all have sworn a solemn oath - over a few cold ones - after each executive meeting. Then, like the mouse’s excuse, I could manage a wry smile about the broken promises.

*Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.


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