There once was an old mouse. The old mouse lived in a cheese factory.
Every day after the cheese factory workers had finished and gone home he would wander around the factory picking up cheese crumbs they had missed in their clean up. He got enough cheese every day to have developed a nice plump belly and he was very happy with his lot in life.
Th only problem he had was on weekends. Because there was no work, there were no crumbs, and by Monday morning he was always a very hungry old mouse.
Try as he might he couldn’t think of a way to solve the problem, so he just accepted it – that was the way he had always done it.
One day a new mouse came to the factory. He waved at the old mouse, and tried to be friendly. The old mouse waved back, but in his mind he was thinking ‘I won’t be sharing my cheese.’
The new mouse told the old mouse he just wanted to help around the factory, he had some ideas to make a machine to make cheese that would let the factory make more cheese than ever before. The new mouse was going to go and talk to the foreman (because mice can speak to foremen in stories like this). He invited the old mouse to come along, and if the foreman liked his idea, the new mouse was sure there would be enough cheese that the old mouse could stop hunting crumbs.
The old mouse wasn’t interested. That’s the way he had always done it…
The new mouse spoke to the foreman, and the foreman liked his idea. They began to work on the new modern machine that would be easier for the workers to use and produce more cheese than ever before.
The new mouse was excited, and again went to the old mouse and said ‘if we work together there is more for all’. But the old mouse would not get involved.
For a while nothing seemed to change. At the end of every day there was still crumbs on the floor. The old mouse collected his crumbs and had his fill. He saw the new mouse building his machine but not taking any cheese. Crazy new mouse he thought to himself.
One day the new mouse came running over to the old mouse and excitedly said ‘we have been working hard over here and we are nearly ready to turn on our machine. Everyone is excited and we would love for you to be involved, come over and join us and you too can get your fill of cheese every day’
The old mouse said he might come by and check it out. The new mouse was happy, maybe the old mouse could see there was a new way to do things that was good for all – working together.
The old mouse watched the machine all day churning out more cheese than he had ever seen, there would be so many crumbs around tonight he thought and he started getting hungry at the thought.
The day finished, the workers the foreman and the new mouse were happy. They had made the cheese and the new mouse saw the rewards for his efforts when the foreman gave him a hunk of cheese to go home and feed his family. The old mouse saw this and was jealous. But he kept his focus on the crumbs and was eager for everyone to leave so he could scurry around and have his fill.
The workers left and the lights went out and the old mouse went scurrying around looking for crumbs- but there were none to be found.
‘This can’t be right’ fumed the old mouse. He searched high and low but there was not a single crumb anywhere! The new machine was making more cheese than ever before, but it was also much more efficient. The new mouse had perfected cheese making and the old mouse was scared – there would be no more crumbs…
The next morning after a hungry night the old mouse had tossed and turned and got angrier and angrier.
He came up with a plan. He would get in early today and get his cheese before the first block came off the line, so he climbed up to the machine and waited.
The new mouse saw the old mouse near the machine and was happy. He waved and the old mouse waved back. He went over and said hello, ‘ready to roll up your sleeves and join the team’ asked the new mouse.
‘Maybe’ said the old mouse. But secretly he wanted to just get his share of cheese.
The new mouse was happy, he knew the secret was in working together.
He rolled up his sleeve and started doing his job starting up the machine.
The old mouse looked on waiting for his perfect chance, and as the machine began to churn he thought he saw it. He went charging down the conveyor belt with his eye on the cheese coming out. He lunged arms outstretched, he was going to get a big chunk of cheese, he would show the new mouse…
He grabbed the cheese – and the blade that cut the cheese into blocks slammed down and cut off his head.
There are two morals to this parable
1) if you work together there is always enough cheese
2) when you don’t participate in building the machine, you don’t know how it works and trying to get ‘your’ cheese means you will get dead.