One day while Chicken Little was walking under a tree, an acorn fell on his head. Immediately he thought to himself: “The sky is falling down. I must hurry and tell the king.” Along the way he met some friends named Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey.
They also became excited as Chicken Little told them that the sky was falling down. As they proceeded to the king's palace, they met a villain named Foxy Loxy. As Foxy heard the story from the excited group, he suggested a short cut to the king's palace. Being gullible little farm animals, they followed the fox to his cave and were never heard of again.
Another version of the story has it that they did finally get to see the king. After examining the acorn that fell on Chicken Little's head, the king told them that the sky was not falling. It was just an acorn. With these words of assurance, they all returned home happy. Which version do you prefer?
The above is a fable or a folk tale with a moral about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling” has become a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Its characters are usually animals whose words and actions reflect human behavior.
Consider the bankrupt situation we are in now and think what this ageless fable means to us today. Should we have listened to the Chicken Littles when they shouted that our stable world was starting to shake? Are we listening to them today or are they just being hysterical?
The moral to be drawn changes depending on the version. Where there is a happy ending, the moral is not to be a 'chicken' but to have courage. In other versions where the birds are eaten by the fox, the fable is interpreted as a warning not to believe everything we are told. The Chicken Little Syndrome has been defined as a sense of despair or passivity which blocks us from creating action.
We may have forgotten that the fable is about teaching courage. However in today's circumstances it could be interpreted as a cautionary political tale in which we should become aware of foreboding events. Let's see how.
In the year 2000, we were told that now that China has become a member of the World Trade Organization, our flourishing and highly profitable garment industry is in danger. It was estimated that by 2005, most of the garment factories would be leaving. And as predicated the last one closed in 2007. What action did we plan or do to minimize this devastating action during this period from 2000 to 2007? To the best of my knowledge-nothing. Did we merely think that Chicken Little was running around shouting “The sky is falling!” and shrug it off?
Yet Puerto Rico was doing over $200 million annually of U.S. military garments. Did any of our garment makers try for a piece of that action? Or were they all eager to go home to their native countries and manufacture on their turf for export to the USA, leaving us their garbage behind.
Over 11 years ago Bill Stewart, a leading economist living and working in the CNMI, told us that the Retirement Pension fund was going to be bankrupt if we didn't change what we were doing to it. Was he a Chicken Little shouting that “the sky is falling down?” Or was he forewarning us?
Then in October 2008, Malcolm D. McPhee & Associates with Dick Conway published a report entitled The Economic Impact of Federal Laws on the CNMI. Please read it to refresh our memories.
The report is 96 pages long. It sounds so depressing and hopeless. The only salvation is for the United States to do exactly what we want them to do which is that we must keep begging them to feed and pamper us as though we are a bunch of helpless idiots that cannot do anything for ourselves. What a defeatist conclusion!
If what the report says was true in 2008, why didn't we take some sort of action to change the events? Was the report just another “The sky is falling!” alarm written by modern day Chicken Littles?
Repeatedly I keep saying that most of our small businesses are owned and operated by outsiders. Why does that continue? Why are almost 100 percent of our construction workers nonresidents? I thought there was a labor law that stated that any government job whether local or federal must have a 30 percent resident labor force. Am I wrong? If I am right why isn't it being enforced?
Why aren't we insisting that food stamp recipients learn a skill and get a job to replace non-resident workers? There over 11,000 of them. What a potential local labor force! Why are we pleading for an extension of December 1214 date? When will we be able to do our own work? Are we truly that weak and dependent on outsiders for our daily bread? If so, I feel sad that we have become a nation of emasculated and whining people.
As an example of how we can help ourselves. In a few weeks a new industry will begin, owned and operated wholly by local farmers. Yes, a brand new USDA approved abattoir is ready to supply our community and for export with fresh pork. Come join in either as a supplier of pigs or a shareholder and, of course, as a consumer. Everyone who believes in helping ourselves is welcome.
Then in about another month, a new air cargo company will begin asking all farmers to begin planting much produce and fruits for export. For the first year the company is planning to export at least 200,000 to 300,000 pounds of fresh produce monthly grown among the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota for export to Guam and other countries.
Also consider the exciting Saipan Air, the new airline to begin operations in June, the number of extra passengers coming to the CNMI. So there are people willing to take risks to improve our situation.
Are these investors dreamers? Maybe yes, maybe no. At this point the most important thing is that some of us are willing to take risks to improve our economy. You are also welcomed to join in. Please call me at 287-8310 if interested in learning more. Share your idea with me and see if we can implement it. There are many more opportunities just like the two mentioned above.
I am reminded of the inspiring words of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States:
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand.”
My fellow citizens, let us get up and stand up to meet our challenges. Let us screw up our courage and work hard to dig ourselves out of this depressing pit. Remember we have acres of diamonds under our feet. Pick them up and build a new life of independence. What seems scary and uncertain is simply a transitional stage. Don't look down. Don't be a Chicken Little. The sky is not falling.
Look up and stretch out for our dreams. They can be ours when we reach out hard. Let's reach out together. Let's have faith in ourselves. We are a blessed nation with bountiful fruits. Tomorrow is a new bright future. Bless it! Embrace it!
“Come to the edge.”
“We can't. We are afraid.”
“Come to the edge.”
“We can't. We will fall.”
“Come to the edge.”
And they came.
And he pushed them
AND THEY FLEW!
(By Guillaume Apollinaire, French poet and philosopher)