"The sky is falling.
The sky is falling", Chicken Little wailed.
(from WikiPedia) There are many versions of the story, but the basic premise
is that a chicken eats lunch one day, and believes the sky is falling down
because an acorn
falls on her head. She decides to tell the King, and on her journey meets other
animals who join her in the quest. In most retellings, the animals all have
rhyming names such as Henny Penny, Cocky Lockey and Goosey Loosey. Finally,
they come across Foxy Loxy, a fox who offers the chicken and her friends his help.
After this point, there are many endings. In the most famous one, Foxy Loxy
eats the chicken's friends, but the last one, usually Cocky Lockey, survives
long enough to warn the chicken and she escapes. Other endings include Foxy
eating them all; the characters being saved by a squirrel
or an owl
and getting to speak to the King; the characters being saved by the King's
hunting dogs; even one version in which the sky actually
falls and kills Foxy Loxy.
Depending on the version, the moral changes. In the "happy ending" version, the
moral is not to be a "Chicken", but to have courage. In other
versions the moral is usually interpreted to mean "do not believe
everything you are told". In the latter case, it could well be a
cautionary political tale: The Chicken jumps to a conclusion and whips the
populace into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox uses
to manipulate them for his own benefit, some times as supper.
I wrote some last month about irrational fears or phobias (flying...as associated
with the statistically minute possibility of dying in a plane crash). Chicken Little doesn't even have a single
point of accurate data from which to extrapolate her irrational fear. But it's very real to her.
When does a fear become cultural or viral?
When individuals operate from their perceptions of "truth" and fail to
see the reality of the present. Today's political
feeding frenzy over AIG paying their execs
millions in bonuses in my estimation is a modern day "sky is falling"
moment. In some ways, I fear for the
recipient's lives. Nobody has a single
data point that even suggests that this gesture was against the law, yet our
"sky is falling" legislators (both sides of the aisle, thank you...few innocents
here) are discussing abandoning the rule of law to adjudicate this falling sky
offense. And the rabid public outcry
supports the "truth" that these men were unjustly granted these bonuses. Smacks of the Salem Witch Trials doesn't it? It is my current belief, that data exists (my
belief, because I have not physically seen it) that these payments were both
legal, and noted months before they were distributed. A case of acorns being turned into falling
But there are others, more entrenched and dangerous. The Holy Roman Empire
felt it could cleanse the world of sin (and Muslims) during the crusades. And those two groups get along famously these
days. And I'm sure in no small part this historical adventure is why Radical
Muslim extremism preaches that they can stop the sky from falling by killing
infidel Christians. Hitler found national
backing in his attempt to eliminate all but Arian versions of Homo sapiens sapiens. And University
of Kansas basketball fans believe
in their heart of hearts that University
of Missouri fans eat their young. Our beliefs can be staggeringly
dysfunctional. From world conquest to
which way the toilet paper rolls off the roll, our concepts of "truth" are
internal, personal, and usually not particularly accurate. At the very least my "truth" most likely doesn't
So Chicken Little believes (from her experience of the acorn falling on her
head) that the sky is falling, and passionately convinces an entourage of
friends of her "truth". The entourage
adjusts their lives around this "truth" (watch where they walk, stay indoors, attempt
to get to the King so he can recruit more into the Psychosis). Our personal little "truths" don't become a
religious movement unless we sell them to a group of followers. Not everyone is afraid to fly. But you might be. Or maybe you just think you can't become a
good salesperson, executive, swimmer, doctor.
Or that if you try, you'll fail (I hear pieces of sky falling).
Adidas athletic shoes in an ad some years ago with David Beckham the
imported soccer star stated:
"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it
easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power
they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact, it's an
opinion. Impossible is not a declaration, it's a dare. Impossible
is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."
I love that. We have been proving the
impossible possible for generations...sail around the world, manned flight,
computers. Your opinion about something
being impossible for you can be proven possible when you can become aware of the
supporting data. That media wonk's
opinion that the sky is falling (that the current financial crisis is beyond
redemption and that the supposed numbers seem to do nothing but worsen) may sell
newspapers, but it is an opinion disguised as fact. It is his "truth". It doesn't have to be yours.
Ask yourself if being part of a doom and gloom
movement, or even indulging in your own personal falling sky scenario serves
you well. Does it get you where you want
to go? If not, take a clear look at the
data, and decide to give up the doom and gloom.