by David DeFord
This article is from the Lessons from Nature series. If you would like to submit your articles or ideas for this series, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard W. Hunter witnessed an impressive display
of wisdom in an exchange by two birds—a parent and
chick. He said,
“It was on a summer day early in the morning.
I was standing near the window. The curtains
obstructed me from two little creatures out on
the lawn. One was a large bird and the other a
little bird, obviously just out of the nest. I saw
the larger bird hop out on the lawn, then thump
his feet and cock his head. He drew a big fat
worm out of the lawn and came hopping back.
The little bird opened its bill wide, but the big
bird swallowed the worm.
“Then I saw the big bird fly up into a tree.
He pecked at the bark for a little while and
came back with a big bug in his mouth. The
little bird opened his beak wide, but the big
bird swallowed the bug. There was squawking
“The big bird flew away, and I didn’t see it
again, but I watched the little bird. After a
while, the bird hopped out on the lawn, thumped
its feet, cocked its head, and pulled a big worm
out of the lawn.” [Howard W. Hunter,
Conference Report, April 1972, p. 95]
The parent bird obviously felt it was time for the chick
to learn to feed himself. If she had continued bearing
the responsibility for feed the chick, the tiny bird would
have abdicated that responsibility for too long. Better to
know how to feed oneself than to depend on others to
We observed that lesson in the aftermath of Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita. Most took responsibility for their
families’ safety and fled north before the devastation
hit. They found generous communities willing to assist
Others waited for the government to transport them
out of harm’s way, to provide food, clothing, shelter,
and other services. They complained when the
government couldn’t keep up with the demand.
Ten or eleven months later, they felt misused when
the generous hotels withheld further lodging.
I don’t blame the individuals as much as I do their
enablers. We can learn a valuable lesson when we
compare Hunter’s birds and the experiences of our
Abdicating responsibility is as addicting and as
destructive as the most powerful narcotics. Once on
that path the victims must suffer the symptoms of
withdrawal before they can break their dependence.
Accepting accountability for our stations in life, on
the other hand, can free us. Taking personal
responsibility liberates us from the shackles of
dependence that chain us to the walls of mediocrity
I challenge you to take control of your life. Take
personal responsibility for your health. Get your
finances in order. Improve your family by improving
your role in it. See a need in your community? Fill it.
No mama bird will assume responsibility for you.
Aren’t you glad?
You can soar high above the trees and travel to the
destinations of your dreams by choosing to fly.
Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in
cause and effect. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the
exhilaration of victory. General George Patton
If you advance confidently in the direction of your
dreams, and endeavor to live the life which you have
imagined, you will meet with a success unexpected in
common hours. Henry David Thoreau
Self-trust is the first secret of success.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of
choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing
to be achieved. Winston Churchill
The people who get on in this world are the people
who get up and look for the circumstances they want
and, if they can’t find them, make them.
George Bernard Shaw
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