Be ready to serve, you never know whether you'll need help yourself one day. Photo/Pexels

Speaking Out: Lessons from a family parable

By  Teresa Quadros, Youth Speak News
  • January 5, 2017

My grandmother once told me a story. A farmer’s wife noticed a rat running through the kitchen and told her husband to set a trap. When the rat saw the trap, he got scared because he might be caught. He went to ask his friends for advice.

First, he asked the chicken who responded, “That’s not my concern, why should I care? It’s your problem so you deal with it yourself and don’t bother me.”

The rat was disheartened by the answer and went to speak with the pig, who said, “I would like to help but I can not give you any advice because, if something goes wrong, you’ll blame me.”

Desperate for help, the rat went to the cow, but the cow said all he could do was pray that the rat would not be caught in the trap.

Distraught, the rat went to sleep worried and hopeless of what to do next. That night, a snake got ensnared in the rat trap and bit the farmer when he came to check. The farmer was rushed to the hospital severely ill.

The doctor advised him to have chicken soup to regain strength, so the wife killed the chicken to make soup for her husband.

Many of their friends and family came to visit the sick farmer, so he told his wife to slaughter the pig and make sausage for the guests.

A couple days later, the farmer died and the whole town came for the funeral, and thus the wife killed the cow to prepare a lunch for all those who attended.

Moral of the story: what you think is not your concern can become your problem tomorrow.

My grandmother taught me about the importance of helping those who are in need.

So often, we turn a blind eye to the needs of others, refusing to help or pretending we cannot do anything of benefit, just to let ourselves off the hook. Yet, one day that same problem might become ours and we may find no one willing to help.

Just like the chicken, how many times have we walked past a homeless person without stopping? Or ignored the pleas of charities asking for donations?

In the same way the pig was afraid to offer suggestions because something may go wrong and he’d be blamed, we too think twice before sharing our knowledge. Because of the looming shadow of accountability, many of us have forgotten how to be kind to one another.

As a Catholic, when we hear about other people’s plights and difficulties our response echoes that of the cow: “I’ll pray for you.” Sometimes the support of a friend makes a greater difference to ease the hurt than a decade of the rosary.

The words of my wise grandmother ring true for me everyday. Whenever I am called upon to assist a person in need, I always try to do whatever I can. I know that one day it might be my turn to call for help.

(Quadros, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Secondary School in Brampton, Ont.)

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