A Mouse, while wriggling free of a trap, had to sacrifice his tail; the wound where the tail had been torn away hurt terribly, and he found his sense of balance thrown off because of the loss.

His tail had been such a part of him that he wasn’t sure he could live without it. Wondering if he could regrow it, he sought out his cousin the Squirrel. “You have such a lush, beautiful tail,” he said. “Could you teach me to regrow mine?”

“I’m so sorry, cousin,” she told him sadly, “for the loss of your tail. But I don’t know how to re-grow a tail. I don’t think we Rodents can – the only one I know who regrows his tail is our friend the Horse.”

Encouraged, the Mouse ran to see his friend the Horse and put the question to him.

“My tail,” the Horse said slowly, “is different from yours – the only part of mine that grows is the hair; if I lost the dock, that is, the part of my tail that is flesh and bone as yours was, I would not be able to grow it back. I am sorry, friend, but your tail is gone, forever.”

The Mouse looked so sad, that the Horse added, kindly: “I heard about your escape from that trap; you are lucky to be alive. But as much of a loss as your tail is, you can adapt to life without it. It will be hard, and it will take time, but you can do it.”

The Mouse, still too deep in mourning to hear the full wisdom of his friend’s words, left the Horse’s paddock in such a state of sorrow that he did not see the Fox until she spoke to him: “Why are you looking so forlorn, little Mouse?”

“I lost my tail last week,” he complained, “and my friend the Horse and my Cousin Squirrel tell me that it won’t grow back.”

“Oh, but I can teach you how to grow your tail back!” the Fox assured him. “I’m not surprised your friends and relations don’t know, because it is a secret only given to us Foxes (which is why we have such lush, beautiful tails). But, because I feel bad for you, I will show you how. Just come along to my burrow …”

We don’t need to follow this story to its grisly conclusion to understand its moral: those who wish to take advantage will tell any tale, even an impossible one, to gain our trust.

Sometimes life just hurts; we all experience terrible loss. No faith tradition, philosophical system or mental discipline can completely banish our natural portion of suffering – the best of these, like good friends, can only promise us they will be there to help us cope and inspire us to grow.

An honest person does not claim to be able to turn the world into a paradise; only a predatory charlatan seeking to manipulate will promise the impossible. The claims of anyone promising “pie in the sky” should be countered with a hefty dose of healthy skepticism.

Editor's Note: While we at OMF value all free expression of opinion, the views expressed by our contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OMF, its board members, or trustees.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Spike’s dystopian novel? Do you have a story about all-or-nothing thinking that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!