Parable Lessons and Decision Making:
See Danger Sign, Sound Warning, Act before it’s Too Late
Where Will This Lead?
Dallin H. Oaks
A Parable lesson about Decision Making
Where the consequences are immediate and serious, we cannot afford to do nothing.
Some decisions are choices between doing something or doing nothing. I heard an example of this kind of choice at a stake conference in the United States many years ago.
The setting was a beautiful college campus. A crowd of young students was seated on the grass. The speaker who described this circumstance said they were watching a handsome tree squirrel with a large, bushy tail playing around the base of a beautiful hardwood tree. Sometimes it was on the ground, sometimes up and down and around the trunk. But why would that familiar sight attract a crowd of students?
Stretched out prone on the grass nearby was an Irish setter. He was the object of the students’ interest, and the squirrel was the object of his. Each time the squirrel was momentarily out of sight circling the tree, the setter would quietly creep forward a few inches and then resume his apparently indifferent posture. This was what held the students’ interest. Silent and immobile, their eyes were riveted on the event whose outcome was increasingly obvious.
Finally, the setter was close enough to bound at the squirrel and catch it in his mouth. A gasp of horror arose, and the crowd of students surged forward and wrested the little animal away from the dog, but it was too late. The squirrel was dead.
Anyone in that crowd could have warned the squirrel at any time by waving his or her arms or crying out, but none did. They just watched while the inevitable outcome got closer and closer. No one asked, “Where will this lead?” When the predictable occurred, all rushed to prevent the outcome, but it was too late. Tearful regret was all they could offer.
We Cannot Afford to Do Nothing
That true story is a parable of sorts. It applies to things we see in our own lives and in lives and circumstances around us. As we see threats creeping up on persons or things we love, we have the choice of speaking or acting or remaining silent. It is well to ask ourselves, “Where will this lead?” Where the consequences are immediate and serious, we cannot afford to do nothing. We must sound appropriate warnings or support appropriate preventive efforts while there is still time.
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