There is a story about a mouse that looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed this warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a serious concern to you. However, it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but I can do nothing about it, but be assured you are in my prayers.”
The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.” So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what they caught. In the darkness, she did not see the catch. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. When she returned home, she still had a fever. The best way to treat a fever is with fresh chicken soup.
So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient: But his wife’s sickness continued. Friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
Unfortunately, the farmer’s wife did not get well. She died. So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon.
The mouse looked at it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn’t concern you, remember – when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life.
Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) admonished the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. In a 1946 speech to representatives of his church in Frankfurt, Niemöller said, “When the Nazis came for the Communists, I remained silent; I was not a Communist. When they locked up the Social Democrats, I remained silent; I was not a Social Democrat. When they came for the Trade Unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a Trade Unionist. When they came for the Jews, I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak up for anyone.”
When issues come up that do not involve us directly, remaining silent can be a copout. If our children are in private or parochial schools, it is so easy to be silent when public school issues are being considered.
If we have a good health insurance plan, it is easy to disregard the millions of people who are not that fortunate. Yes, we are our brothers’ (and sisters’) keepers. Being concerned for the welfare of others is true love.