Friday Fable: Aesop’s “The Mice and the Weasels”*

Posted by jlubans on April 11, 2014

20140411-weasel award pic.jpg
Caption: Weighed down with recognition.

“THE WEASELS and the Mice waged a perpetual war with each other, in which much blood was shed. The Weasels were always the victors. The Mice thought that the cause of their frequent defeats was that they had no leaders set apart from the general army to command them, and that they were exposed to dangers from lack of discipline. They therefore chose as leaders Mice that were most renowned for their family descent, strength, and counsel, as well as those most noted for their courage in the fight, so that they might be better marshaled in battle array and formed into troops, regiments, and battalions. When all this was done, and the army disciplined, and the herald Mouse had duly proclaimed war by challenging the Weasels, the newly chosen generals bound their heads with straws, that they might be more conspicuous to all their troops. Scarcely had the battle begun, when a great rout overwhelmed the Mice, who scampered off as fast as they could to their holes. The generals, not being able to get in on account of the ornaments on their heads, were all captured and eaten by the Weasels.
The more honor the more danger.”

I belong to a professional association. Of late, I’ve noticed that the association (made up of numerous divisions and committees) gives out lots of awards. So many that its weekly e-letter includes a regular feature: Awards & Grants! The society itself meets twice a year. Jokingly, I’d say it meets once each year to decide who gets prizes and then it meets again that year to hand out the awards! I know, I know, awards are a form of recognition and that’s good for the ego; sincere recognition does motivate. But, there can be a de-motivating effect when awards become predictable and orchestrated. Fewer awards given over longer periods of time might recapture some of the genuine recognition that true achievement deserves.
Still, unlike the depicted generals, we do not (yet!) have to wear industrial grade suspenders to hold up our pants. Let’s keep it that way.

*Source: AESOP'S FABLES By Aesop Translated by George Fyler Townsend (probably from this edition): “Three hundred and fifty Aesop's fables”. Chicago, Belford, Clarke & Co., 1886.
Available at Gutenberg.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

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