The Parable of the Mouse Hole

Once upon a time there was a family. A hard working, well behaved family, who moved into a nice apartment in a good, if not wealthy, part of town.

Every morning the kids went off to school well fed upon a breakfast of cereal and milk - a breakfast the mother had lovingly set before them. Then Mom and Dad each got busy with their respective responsibilities, working hard always with a mind focused on the wellbeing of the family as a whole, and the future of the children in particular.

This went on for some years as the children grew. But all was not right. The neighborhood itself started to go downhill. Land owners -- including this family's landlord -- seemed to stop caring. Paint started to peel, roofs to leak, lawn and gardens to become overcome, first with weeds, than with trash.

Mom and Dad soldiered on. The kids did too, but all was not as it was. Dad, who had held one steady job for years suddenly found himself jobless. He quickly sought another but could find nothing that paid as well as the old one.  Mom, too, started looking for work outside the home. This was needed to make ends meet.

Getting to school safely started to become difficult for the children and the atmosphere in the classroom -- once a place of quiet, serious, teaching -- changed to one of noise and strife. Homework became mere exercises, and the children sensing this, and with minds focused elsewhere, started to do less well in their studies. 

Still, month in, month out, the family soldiered on.  Then it happened. It wouldn't seem like much to an outsider. Nothing worthy of a headline. But for this family this little event -- caused by a few little mice -- changed everything.

Mom had gotten used to the peeling paint, the chipped sink and the dripping faucet. But one morning when she went to the cabinet to get the children's cereal she found the box had been chewed through by some mice, and the cereal was spread out on the cabinet shelf mixed with chewed cardboard and mouse droppings.  

That morning the children went to school with no breakfast. And the next. And the next.

Complaints about the mouse infestation started to spread throughout the building. The landlord promised change but the change never came.  Families who could move away did. Others, with nowhere else to go, suffered in silence. 

With family breakfast no longer part of their lives the children each started going off on their own. Mom and Dad started to lose hope too, and conversation slowly ceased. Where once there had been a hard working happy family -- a household filled with joy, hope and promise -- now there was only sullen quiet and sometimes anger; a family adrift. Just one more among many such families in a neighborhood that suddenly saw itself with no future.

The landlord himself rarely showed except, of course, when rent was late. He himself had long ago moved elsewhere.

Then one day there was a knock on the door. Standing there was a bold and brash man in a bright suit jacket. "I'm going to make this neighborhood great again" he proclaimed.  And when invited in he looked around and told the people that he would never live like this. He was a rich and powerful man. And that if they'd support him in his attempt to take over the building and the neighborhood all would again be wonderful.

"But what do you plan to do?" asked the husband. The man in the bright suit jacket gestured broadly, walked across the room, and pointed to a hole in the baseboard. "Close this in!" he proclaimed. "Then the apartment will be sound again!" "Are not mice eating the food? Your food. Food you worked for. Food that should be feeding your children!"  "Yes" said Mom and Dad, thankful that finally someone was going to make things right again. "That is where and when every started going badly" they thought to themselves, "with the intrusion of the mice!" It was all no suddenly so clear.

And so a campaign started and more and more people got behind it. "Make the neighborhood great again!" "Chase away the mice!" "Fill in the mouse holes!"  For the first time in years the family, and many of their neighbors, had become believers.

How does our parable end?

We don't know yet.  But the mice will be going. That he promises.