Wednesday, 17 March 2010


“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” - Herman Melville

I had a very busy day at work today and a couple of meetings one of which was very stormy as people were being uncooperative and unwilling to help others either because they were too busy or because it was not their problem or because they couldn’t care less. I work in an environment where teamwork is vital to what we all do. Unless there is teamwork there is failure. Unfortunately I realized that many of my colleagues still had not realised this and was reminded of a story my grandfather used to tell me:

“Once upon a time there was a little mouse that lived in a farmhouse. One day he saw from his little hole in the wall the farmer and his wife opening up a packet that had just arrived in the post. It was a big, modern, efficient, mousetrap! The mouse lost no time and ran into the barn to announce the news:
“There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house, help! Help me, please!”
The chicken cackled and said:
“Hmm, yes it is a big problem for you Mousey, but it’s got nothing to do with me! I don’t particularly care if there is mousetrap in the house.”

The mouse turned to the sow and said:
“There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house, help! Help me please!”
The sow turned to the mouse and was very sympathetic:
“Yes, I see you have a big problem to solve Mr Mouse, but all I can really do for you is to pray. And I’ll do that forthwith. I can’t give you any other help, I’ve got a litter of piglets to take care of and you know what trouble they are!”

The mouse then went to the cow and announced mournfully:
“There is a mousetrap in the house, help me please!”
The cow turned to the mouse and said annoyed:
“Go away mouse, I’ve got enough problems of my own. Milk production is down and I must think of ways to improve it. Mousetraps are mouse problems, I’m too big to care about such trifles. The most a mousetrap can do is nip my hoof…”

The mouse went away and crawled back into his hole dismayed, knowing that he could count on nobody except himself to resolve his mousetrap problem. The next night there was a loud bang in the kitchen and the farmer’s wife woke up and knew the mousetrap had caught a mouse. She was curious to go and see it and crept into the kitchen to see the results. Unfortunately the mousetrap had caught a snake by the tail. It was writhing and carrying on, and she in her consternation went too close and the snake bit her. She screamed and screamed and the farmer woke up and fortunately was able to rush her to hospital and so save her life.

When they got back home, the farmer’s wife continued to be sick and was confined to bed. The farmer had to care for her and of course to look after her and make her well, he had to do something drastic. He took the hatchet to the hen, and made some nutritious and delicious chicken soup. His wife improved somewhat and the farmer was happy for the sacrifice he had made. However, in a few days time, the wife started to get worse again. The doctor advised that she needed looking after 24 hours a day and prescribed lots of medicines but the prognosis was not good. If she would get better, it would be a very long time. The farmer called upon friends and relatives and they all came to help and stayed to look after his wife. They all needed feeding of course, so the pig had to be killed next (the piglets had been weaned!).

Unfortunately, after a while the wife died. There was funeral and it was well-attended because the farmer and his wife were good people and had many friends. The farmer killed the cow to feed everyone at the funeral.

The mouse watched all of this with great sadness from his little hole in the wall. He thought of how little his problem had been and how easily it would have been resolved if everyone had pitched in to help him…

Next time someone asks for your help to resolve HIS little problem, help him, even if it is not much of your concern. Even if each one of us is an individual, we are also part of a community. We each need to understand himself and understand others, take care of others and be taken care of himself…”

And aptly, our word of the day is:

neighbour |ˈnābər| noun
A person living near or next door to the speaker or person referred to: Our garden was the envy of the neighbours.
• A person or place in relation to others near or next to it: I chatted with my neighbour on the flight to New York. | Matching our investment levels with those of our North American neighbours.
• Any person in need of one's help or kindness (after biblical use) : Love thy neighbour as thyself.
verb [ trans. ]
(of a place or thing) be situated next to or very near (another): The square neighbours the old quarter of the town | [as adj. ] ( neighbouring) A couple at a neighbouring table.
neighbourless adjective
ORIGIN Old English nēahgebūr, from nēah [nigh, near] + gebūr [inhabitant, peasant, farmer] (compare with boor ).


  1. Love the story. My son stands out where he works, as the member on the team that helps eveyone else succeed with their part, as well as his own. He does get reognition for his efforts and is appreciated by all.

  2. I love this story, Nic!!!
    It would be a better world if everyone helped each other out this way.