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In The Company of Mice

A timely parable.


Out in my garage tonight, I kept company with some mice who’ve recently taken up residence. They run around, squeak, and chew into all my birdseed bags. Tonight they reminded me again how annoying they can be.

I heard the rustling of mouse activities as I looked through boxes in my cold garage. A couple of times I saw movement in my peripheral vision, but when I looked over, no mice. They vanished! Sneaky.

As I started to roll this over in my head, I was faced with a dilemma. I care about all God’s creatures, no matter how small. I want them to be safe, warm and fed. I feel bad knowing many of them will be live food for a predator. I don’t want to be the predator.

At the same time, I don’t want them in my garage. I want them out. As the mice get bolder, I am more frustrated. Maybe I should set traps. No, I don’t want to kill them, not with traps nor poison. They have as much right to be here as I do.

But the mice can carry disease and I don’t want them to end up living with me. The solution is simple really. I’ll make a place of refuge where the mice can go to live. As long as they go peacefully, and stay in the area I’ve designated for them, I won’t have to kill them. They will be safe.

Not long after, I look on as the mouse population rises, while their boundaries remain the same. I think, “what an incredible deal for mice who would have probably died had I not intervened.”

One day I go to check on the mice and find many of them dead. There has been a fight with many casualties. I don’t understand. I gave them enough room, basic necessities like food and the freedom to live, even if in the confines I inflict. What happened?

I don’t realize I’ve disconnected from my humanity.

I’ve been as nice as I can as long as I can. Since I have lost control over the situation, I being to distance myself, letting events unfold on their own. I check on the mice less frequently. They get food and water, but no kindness. Gradually, I stop paying attention to them. After a while, I forget about them all together.

In doing so, I become the predator, the “place of refuge,” my hunting ground. My poison…apathy.

Originally published at medium.com

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