Whose responsibility? Food for Thought

It often seems like there’s so much to do, and so few to do it.

You know what I mean. The same people do the majority of the work most of the time. We see the pattern everywhere. It’s especially pervasive in volunteer organizations.

Sure there’s a “can do” attitude. Yet it’s hard to find amidst the all-too-common “wait and see” approach of settling back and expecting someone else to take the initiative.

Sometimes it gets so frustrating.

Perhaps in an attempt not to be taken advantage of, people tend to bury their heads in the sand. Yet even when one individual musters the courage and the determination to take the first step, the rest are more likely to criticize than to join in.

How many times have you heard, “Why should I be the one to do it? They wouldn’t do it for me! Why should I go out on a limb for them?”

Perhaps the answer can be learned from the animal kingdom. I’ll never forget a magnificent National Geographic feature on penguins that was published years ago. One photo in particular remains indelibly etched in my mind. It was a fascinating group shot of these birds in Antarctica. They were standing in successive circles – actually circles within circles within circles.

What caught my interest was the fact that each penguin took its rightful turn in the outer circle. In proper rotation, every bird accepted its role – shielding the pack from the howling winds gusting off the horribly frigid sub-zero terrain. Their behavior was innateæ that’s how penguins manage to survive as a group.

You might be saying to yourself, “but we’re not penguins.” And you’re right.

Perhaps another example will resound closer to home. A story comes to mind that was told by Wayne Dyer, PhD, author of Real Magic and several other best-sellers. It’s about a female executive who purchases a magazine and a bag of chocolate chip cookies after learning that her flight was delayed. Sitting in the airport waiting area, she settles in and proceeds to scan a few pages of her magazine. Reaching for a chocolate chip cookie from the bag which is placed on the table between her and the adjacent seat, something strange catches her eye.

As if precisely on cue, the gentleman beside her reaches into the bag for a tasty snack as well. Taken back for a moment, she cannot believe her eyes. “What audacity!” she thinks to herself. Mentally struggling with what she thinks she saw, the woman brushes off the incident and reaches into the bag for another cookie. To her surprise, he follows suit – this time smiling and nodding his head as an affirmation.

With staccato-like movements, she reaches into the bag, and so does he. With each cookie she grabs, he takes one immediately after. As her blood pressure rises to the boiling point and her cookies progressively disappear one after another, the man simply continues to smile. Finally he reaches into the bag and discovers it’s the last one.

Then he performs the unspeakable. Rather than munching on it, he simply stares at her for a second. Then he breaks it in half, grins ear to ear, and proceeds to hand her the larger piece.

Enraged beyond composure, she jumps to her feet, throws his offering to the floor and nearly trips over her briefcase as she scurries to a long waiting line. There she remains red-faced and angry. “How could anyone be so brazen?” she says to herself. “That’s why this world is such a mess. Who does he think he is … eating MY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES?”

Consumed with rage, she remains transfixed in the moment. After what seems to be an eternity, movement in the line ahead finally breaks her concentration. Yet she cannot move beyond the incident. Slowly approaching the counter and recalling every morsel he ate with a sickening smile on his face, she reaches into her bag to grab her boarding pass. Suddenly all of her blood rushes to her toes and she goes pale on the spot.

For beneath her ticket she discovers … HER BAG OF CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!

Did you ever stop and think about whose cookies you’re munching? Perhaps it’s time to figure this out. Actually you may be surprised by another perspective you never considered.

And when was the last time you took your turn in the outer circle? Yes the wind is searing and the chill is unnerving. Yet when we join forces, accept our responsibility, support each other, and share our chocolate chip cookies, the odds of success improve immensely – Mind Over Matter!

© 2000 Barry Bittman,
MD all rights reserved

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Written by Barry Bittman MD

Explore Wellness in 2021