Friday Fable: Aesop’s THE OLD LION AND THE FOX*

Posted by jlubans on November 29, 2013

20131129-tracks and bones.jpg
Caption: “Come in my friend.”
“An old Lion, whose teeth and claws were so worn that it was not so easy for him to get food as in his younger days, pretended that he was sick. He took care to let all his neighbors know about it, and then lay down in his cave to wait for visitors. And when they came to offer him their sympathy, he ate them up one by one.
The Fox came too, but he was very cautious about it. Standing at a safe distance from the cave, he inquired politely after the Lion's health. The Lion replied that he was very ill indeed, and asked the Fox to step in for a moment. But Master Fox very wisely stayed outside, thanking the Lion very kindly for the invitation.
"I should be glad to do as you ask," he added, "but I have noticed that there are many footprints leading into your cave and none coming out. Pray tell me, how do your visitors find their way out again?"
“Take warning from the misfortunes of others.”

That “misfortunes of others” reminds me of a young colleague who accepted a tenure track position in a school of information science. Giddy over getting a job offer, she failed to do her “due diligence” on the department and the institution. (Had she looked a bit more closely she might have drawn some conclusions from the unfortunate high rate of young faculty resignations.)
While she published in refereed journals, gave talks at conferences and, taught several well-received classes, she found herself increasingly frustrated by and isolated from her peers. All were fearful of the administration and its capricious behavior. One wrong step or word and you could be out the door. Her peers were keeping a low profile – abiding by the fear-induced status quo.
Was this really the way she wanted to work, always looking over her shoulder?
Happily, she rescued her career by resigning and moving to another school, one far more supportive of aspiring young professors.

*Source: Aesop for Children (translator not identified). Illustrations by Milo Winter (1886-1956). Chicago: 
Rand McNally & Company, 1919. Available online at Project Gutenberg.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: Alamo College libraries

Copyright John Lubans 2013

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