Was the Little Red Hen Catholic?

Hen_chickenMy mom often read to me (before I could read for myself).  And I especially recall the story of the Little Red Hen.  It goes something like this…

There were many animals on the farm. They lived there happily. The little Red Hen was in the farmyard with her chickens when she found some grains of wheat.

“Who will plant this wheat?” she said. “Please plant it. Then we can have more grain when the plant grows.”

“Not I,” said the Goose. “Not I,” said the Duck. “I will, then,” said the little Red Hen.

She watered it, too. Every day she checked the plants to see how they grew. After a month, the wheat grew into plants. The wheat plants had many more seeds.

When the wheat was ripe she said, “Who will take this wheat to the mill?”

“Not I,” said the Goose. “Not I,” said the Duck. “I will, then,” said the little Red Hen, sadly. “I will do it myself.”

So then she took the wheat to the mill. When she brought the flour home she said, “Who will make some bread with this flour?”

“Not I,” said the Goose. “Not I,” said the Duck. “I will, then,” said the little Red Hen.

When the bread was baked, she said, “Who will eat this bread?” “I will,” said the Goose “I will,” said the Duck .

“No, you won’t,” said the little Red Hen. “You did not help. I will eat it myself. Cluck! Cluck!” She ate it with her children, the chickens.

My mother (the Methodist) intended to instill in me a spirit of self-reliance and responsibility.  Put another way, those who do the work get to enjoy the fruit of their labor.  Having grown up on a farm, mom probably could relate to the hard-working hen.

Neither mom nor our family were ones to take a handout.  But they also were quick to share their harvest with those in need.  During the Great Depression, my grandma regularly hosted hungry travelers for dinner, folks who were just passing by and were in need of a good meal.  (And boy could my grandma make a good meal.)

A case could be made that the hen wasn’t the most generous bird in the barnyard.  On the other hand, it wasn’t as if the goose and duck couldn’t work – they chose not to.  And they expected something for nothing.

It is an old story.  And it was the hen’s choice whether to share or keep her gains for herself and her family.

Today, the story likely would end differently:

After the hen refused to share, the goose and the duck filed a complaint with a federal judge, who confiscated the hen’s bread and distributed it among the other animals in the barnyard, after taking half of it for court expenses (and because, as I’ve read, some animals are more equal than others).

Federal intervention is what happens when society lacks Catholic values and decision.  A Catholic hen would have looked around the barnyard and shared with any other birds truly in need.  And a Catholic goose and Catholic duck would never sue to get someone else’s goods.  Catholic critters would help each other in a joyful spirit.

Thus, it isn’t hard to realize that we don’t live in a Catholic society (or Christian of any flavor, for that matter).  We live in a society where the hens are selfish and the geese and ducks are often lazy.  And instead of people willingly helping each other and taking on responsibility, the government confiscates from some and makes others dependent.

All this makes for a very messy barnyard.

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