Yesterday was an interesting day for my website. A large number of people “discovered” my site, and more specifically, they discovered my Shawn’s List of Rules post. That was the first thing.
The second thing that happened was a bunch of people got offended. Unfortunately, there was a subset of those people that truly shouldn’t have been offended, because I wasn’t talking about them at all. I make no apologies, but I realize not everyone knows all the details. Even those directly involved. Since I can’t publicly give specific details (I’d very likely get sued. Really.), I will tell a story. Below is the parable of the Raccoons and the Brussels Sprouts.
Once upon a time, there was a family of raccoons. This family lived near a fancy restaurant, and would often have a well balanced meal in the evening. The restaurant was really upscale, and its patrons were frivolous spenders. Due to the vast quantities of leftovers, the raccoon family was able to eat meat, pasta, veggies, fruit: Everything a raccoon would ever need.
Then one day, the restaurant burned down. All the rich patrons went elsewhere, and the poor raccoon family started to struggle. They were a wise and frugal family, so for a while, their reserve food kept them healthy. Unfortunately, the restaurant owners never rebuilt. After a while, even the stores of food weren’t enough. Some raccoons had to leave. Some even died. It was a very sad time in the raccoon family.
Then, a farmer moved into the vacant property where the restaurant used to stand. The farmer grew a variety of vegetables, but his main crop was Brussels Sprouts. It turned out he was able to grow Brussels Sprouts very efficiently, because the ashes from the burned down restaurant provided fertilizer that Sprouts thrived in. Unfortunately, the raccoons didn’t like Brussels Sprouts. They were used to a well balanced diet, and Brussels Sprouts alone weren’t enough. They were part of a balanced diet — but the raccoons knew they wouldn’t be able to thrive like they had in years past.
In fact, the raccoons began to despise the farmer. They were angry because all he grew were Brussels Sprouts. Sprouts weren’t nearly as tasty. Surely, with only Brussels Sprouts, they would all perish. They ate them, because they had no choice, but the raccoons were not happy.
Meanwhile, the farmer tried to grow a few other crops, but he really couldn’t afford much else. As it were, the farmer bought the field in the first place, because he really liked raccoons, and wanted to do everything he could to keep them alive. Few raccoons realized that. He kept planting Brussels Sprouts, because he knew they could live if they ate them — but the raccoons kept getting angrier. The farmer and the raccoons couldn’t speak to each other, of course, so both the raccoons and the farmer got frustrated.
A few years went by, and the raccoons started to see that although they lost some weight, they were able to live relatively healthy on Brussels Sprouts. In fact, some raccoons even liked the Sprouts. About half of the raccoon family even went to the farmer’s house and scratched at the door to get the farmer to give them more Brussels Sprouts. The farmer soon was planting more and more Brussels Sprouts to keep up with demand! He got to see the raccoons preparing Brussels Sprouts in different ways, and he was very impressed with their creativity.
Sadly, a part of the raccoons that scratched for more Sprouts ended up piling them in a corner. Those Brussels Sprouts began to smell bad. Even though they wanted the extra Sprouts, the raccoons blamed the farmer for the smell. They told other raccoons that they never wanted Brussels Sprouts in the first place. The smell leaked into all the raccoon houses, and all the raccoons forgot that it was those very Brussels Sprouts that had been keeping them alive for so long.
So what was the farmer to do? The raccoons that scratched at his door for more Sprouts were now angry because they had them. The raccoons that were happily eating their share of Sprouts were getting irritated by the smell of the rotting vegetables coming from the other raccoon’s houses. The farmer got angry because he had invested everything he had into a Brussels Sprout farm to keep the raccoon family alive, and all they did was hiss at him. Some would even bite him.
The farmer began to dislike raccoons in general. Not all of the raccoons were mean, but when all the farmer saw day in and day out were hissing, biting raccoons — he had a hard time trusting any of them. He still grew Brussels Sprouts, and he still fed raccoons, because he’d made a commitment to himself to feed them. Sadly, however, he found little joy in farming any more. If it weren’t for his friends, family, and hobbies — the farmer would probably just have moved away and let the raccoons fend for themselves.
In the end, the farmer kept feeding the raccoons. He’d share his frustrations with his family and friends occasionally, because he was unable to speak raccoon. He figured that even if the raccoons thought he was mean for feeding them Brussels Sprouts, at least he was helping them stay alive.