Fable of The Cornered Rat
As a young fellow, my friends and I would often go hunting. One of our hunts involved going to the local grain elevator and killing rats. The grain elevator was located right in the center of town. Nobody liked the rats; which were very plentiful; getting full and growing large on the corn and beans often spilled during the unloading and storage of the grains.
While on one of these hunts, I was partnered up with a local fellow, years older than us, who was mentally slow. He usually just nodded instead of talking. We never thought he was smart enough to have a conversation. We headed off, armed with our guns and our flashlights in search of the huge rats, which lived and fattened themselves on the grains. Flashlights were taped to our rifles so we had light as we aimed our guns.
Following him into a building, it seemed obvious we had found the mother lode of all rats. Everywhere I looked; one of these seemingly massive creatures appeared to lurk in a corner of the darkened building. Their eyes reflected back at our lights as they scurried around. The creatures seemed even larger by the coal blackness of the night and the fear of getting bit. Horror stories had been shared with us about getting bit by rabid animals; at a minimum suffering a nasty bite; being subjected to a series of painful shots; or at it’s worst; dying as a result of such an attack from these vicious creatures.
Determined that we had found our hunted prize, I turned and began to close the door behind us, shutting out what little light was creeping into the room from the door opening. I thought it best to trap our prey in the building and not let it out. As the door almost shut and the room grew even darker, the older fellow I was partnered up with began yelling, making all kinds of weird sounds, pushing me out of the way and reopening the door. Fearing he had suffered the worst, I scrambled of the room, back into the evening air, where scared and nervous, I immediately began to question how serious he was hurt. He informed me that he was not hurt. Aggravated, I then asked him why all the noise and demonstration. To that he explained: “Never close the door on a rat. If you close the door, the rat will have no way to get out. The rat will try to fight you to get away. If you leave the door open, instead of fighting you, the rat will do everything he can to try to go out the door and get away. It is better to let the rat get away than to fight the rat and have it bite you.”
With that bit of wisdom shared, we then returned to our hunt, where the door remained open and we successfully hunted the rats without injury. Only later did the events of the evening and his words hold more meaning to me.
In our lives, we all come across our rats, not the furry types, but the human type. They could be a friend, a child, your spouse, a neighbor, a co-worker, an employee or even your boss. When the need for change occurs, sometimes the situation dictates you confront others (your rats) with the need for change! When such a confrontation is necessary, never shut the door, always leaving a dignified opening for them to crawl out of. You can’t dictate change; you can only bring the reason for change to light and allow the other person to make the necessary change. You can’t change people; they must change themselves! Once something is brought to their attention, most people become their own harshest critic and make the change.
Cornering a rat causes it to fight back and bite you; leaving at best a painful wound. Avoid the wounds of confrontation by allowing the rats in your life a way to save their pride and make any necessary changes by always leaving the door open.