The Lazy Little Squirrel who refused to gather nuts, a parable about incentives to work

Stanley squirrel was enjoying his first summer.

He had learned to leap from tree to tree using the spring of the branch to launch himself to his next target.  The feeling of exhilaration as he flew through the air was liberating.

All the first year squirrels liked to play together, chasing butterflies, splashing through the shallow creek and sunning themselves in the warm summer sunshine.

The older squirrels cautioned the newlings, ” play is fine, but as squirrels, we all must spend our time gathering acorns and other nuts for the cold winter when food becomes scarce.  If we don’t work together, we will all go hungry.”

Stanley, being somewhat stubborn and simple-minded , rebelled against the elders.

” I live to play,” He said.  ” I don’t know what winter cold is, but I’m sure it can wait a few more days.  After all, we are young and healthy and food is very plentiful…Why worry?”

Stanley and his siblings resumed their play, pretending to not hear his mothers screech of anger.

Summer passed quickly and the early fall brought cooler nights, but the days were  warm and the sun shone with a  brilliant clarity. Stanley continued to ignore the admonishment of the adults, playing and sleeping instead of gathering nuts for the winter.

One by one, all of his playmates left to join the rest of the squirrels in preparation for the coming season.

Finally it was only Stanley, and his special friend, bushy tailed, Stephanie.

” Look at all those fraidysquirrel’s, running to gather nuts” said Stanley.” We squirrels take care of each other. If we need food, the others will share their wealth,meanwhile we can play.”

Stephanie flicked her tail in his face and sprang away, with Stanley in hot pursuit.

Time passed, and late Fall turned into early Winter.

 The first snowfall of the season hit the forest. Everything was covered with a thin white blanket, and the crystals shone brightly in the morning sun.

Stanley and Stephanie sat on a bare branch of their favorite Oak tree. ” The others are still looking for food” said Stephanie, her black eyes wide with alarm.

“Don’t worry”, said Stanley,” we will look for food tomorrow.In the mean time,  the others will share their wealth with us  if we need it. ”

“Tag you’re it!” he shouted,  and sprang from the branch, sending a shower of snow to the ground below.

A few days later, Winter set in with a vengeance. The snow fell for 2 days, and the winds blew huge drifts against the trunks of the trees.

” I’m hungry ,” whined Stephanie.” All the nuts and berries are gone. What will we eat.”

 Stanley looked around.” Yes I’m hungry too. Lets go ask the others to share their wealth.”

They scampered off and went to see the Top Squirrel and the other elders.

” Can we please have something to eat.” They asked in unison.” We are hungry, and there is no food to be found in the forest.”

The Top Squirrel looked at them sadly, and shook his head.” We have been working all summer and all fall to gather enough food to keep us alive during the long cold winter.”

 He stamped his front paw.” That’s what squirrels do. We work as a community to provide the food to keep us alive. Everyone must contribute or we all die.”

Stanley hung his head.” We didn’t know..” His dark eyes opened wide.” I always thought we were part of a community of squirrels.

All for one and one for all.

From each according to his means to each according to his needs.

Share and share alike

We should be be taken care of by the Community of Squirrels.”

The Top Squirrel shook his head. His eyes blazed with anger.” By ignoring  our warnings, and playing instead of working, you have jeopardised our community.

Everyone must work together for all to survive.

I’m sorry. You and Stephanie must find your own food.

We have only enough to feed those who helped gather the food. If we feed you we all starve. ”

THE MORAL of the STORY: Redistribution of wealth only works if there is some incentive to contribute to the common good.

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