Editorials by Robert Kirwan

What Is Going To Happen When We Run Out Of Little Red Hens?

   This is my favourite time of the year, and I know that most of you likely feel the same way. However, at the risk of putting a damper on your “Christmas Spirit”, it is also the time of year when I get the most discouraged about the future of this great community.
   On the one hand, everywhere you turn you see wonderful examples of people and organizations involved in a wide variety of special activities. Telethons; the
Salvation Army Kettle Drive ; food bank drives for Christmas hampers; and special projects all designed to help the less fortunate in our community. You also see other organizations holding fund-raising events to help support their own particular activities through Church teas and bazaars; raffles; penny tables; bake sales; chocolate bar sales – the list goes on.
   Nevertheless, whether you are looking at a group that is raising money for the needy or a community group that is raising money and awareness for a special initiative, you tend to see one common element. The majority of the work is being done by a small group of individuals – usually the same group that has been doing the work year after year. It begs the question, “What is going to happen when the ‘workers’ get tired and quit?”
   I found the answer in the following story that I call “The Little Red Hen”. But I’m afraid of the ending.
   One day a little red hen scratched about in the barnyard until she gathered some grains of wheat. She called her neighbours and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant?
   "Not I," said the cow. "Not I," said the duck. "Not I," said the pig. "Not I," said the goose.
   "Then I will," said the little red hen. And she did. The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain.
   "Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
   "Not I," said the duck. "I have other plans." "I’d have to leave my comfortable pen," said the pig. "I have to watch not to hurt my back," said the cow. "I don’t want to ruffle my freshly cleaned feathers," said the goose.
   "Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.
At last it was time to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.
   "That would be overtime for me," said the duck. "I’m waiting for a friend to come over," said the pig. "I never learned how when I was in school," said the cow. "I think I will wait for something better to come along," said the goose.
   "Then I will," said the little red hen and she proceeded to bake five loaves
   They all wanted some, and in fact, even demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No. I can eat the five loaves myself."
   "You have more than you need," said the duck. "You are being greedy," said the pig. "How can you let us go hungry when you have so much," said the cow. "You don’t care about your neighbours," said the goose.
   And they painted "unfair" picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities. When the farmer showed up, he said to the little red hen, "You mustn’t be greedy."
   "But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.
   "Exactly," said the farmer. "That’s the wonderful free enterprise system. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But in our modern system, the productive workers must divide their profits with the idle."
   And so the little red hen took her share - one loaf of bread - and went back home.
   The duck, the pig, the cow and the goose all took one loaf of bread as their share and they too went on their way home to enjoy the fresh feast.
   And they lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and chuckled, "I am so grateful to live in a country which will look after me. I am so grateful."
   But her neighbours wondered why she never baked any more bread.
   And so, while I love this time of year for many obvious reasons, I still have to wonder, “What is going to become of our great community when the workers of these organizations get tired and decide that it is time to quit?”
   If you belong to a group, and if you have similar concerns about the “workers” in your organization, cut out this story and put it up on your bulletin board. We need to help the “Little Red Hens” in our community, or some day we will all be without bread.
   Have a good week!


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