Friday Fable: Aesop’s “THE BLACKSMITHS AND THE MOUSE”*

Posted by jlubans on October 19, 2012

“A mouse was carrying away the corpse of another mouse who had died of starvation. The blacksmiths stood there and laughed when they saw this. The mouse who was still among the living addressed the blacksmiths through his plentiful tears, 'Shame on you: you cannot even manage to sustain a single mouse!' 
Do not laugh at the calamity that befalls your neighbour.”

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The mouse gets one back on the jeering blacksmiths. The epimythium (the trailing moral) admonishes us not to laugh at others’ suffering. That is a constant truth, but the mouse adds something more. He suggests that the blacksmiths are so cheap and so unproductive that they cannot keep a single, harmless wee mousie! Indeed, the blacksmiths’ failings may have contributed to the mouse’s demise.
And so it once was for me back in my 9-5 days. One supervisor took great delight in taunting me over the failure of a project. For him, it was a flawed idea, a bad process and deserved dismissal. I saw it differently, since I had had outstanding success when I applied the same project in my area of supervision. My critic, from the start, had resisted the necessary changes, never invested any of his resources, undercut the good efforts of others, and, frankly, came up short on the creativity index. So, his jeering served to underscore his failings more than any genuine flaw in the project. (The project was stopped after a new, unimaginative administration took over. They preferred the old ways.)

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


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