I was recently involved in a rather in depth discussion about a bad choice that I made in the past. The question was posed to me as to when I knew I had made a bad choice. My answer was I know it was bad from the beginning. I actually knew it was a bad decision when I still could have changed it. Then I was asked, “Well, why did you do it then?” My answer was in the form of an old story.
Once a boy was up on a mountain peak standing in the snow, holding his collar up against the wind, and he happened upon a Cobra. The boy looked at the serpent as it shivered.
“Little boy, I’m freezing. Please take me down the mountain where it is warm.”
The boy answered, “No, you are a poisonous snake and you will bite me if I try to pick you up. Even if you don’t then you will surely bite me when you are warm.”
The snake answered back, “No if you spare my life I will not bite you. You have my promise.”
The boy considered this all for a moment then carefully he picked the adder up and placed it in his satchel and began his hike down the slope. Soon he was home and he took the snake and placed him near the fire. Before long the snake began to warm and move around. The boy seeing how beautiful it was began to stroke its scaly skin. Then the snake bit him.
Incredulous the boy looked at his swelling arm and cried out, “but you promised not to bite me. Now I will die. Why did you bite me?”
To which the serpent answered, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
As for me I knew what I was getting into when I got into it. Why did I go ahead and do it any way. Perhaps it is in innate desire to be found wrong. Perhaps it was stubbornness. Perhaps it was stupidity. In the end it was a combination of these and other things. Now, like the boy, I must live with the consequences of my actions. And don’t we all from time to time look at the serpents we know we should walk away from and pick them up any way. Is it human nature to blunder headfirst into things we know we should avoid?
Maybe someday we will all learn from our mistakes and when it seems like we should run we will. Our survival instincts will win out over our desire to have the things that may come if we can somehow overcome our bad choices. Until then remember the boy and the snake. Knowing what not to get into will save a lot of wasted energy trying to get out of trouble we never should have been in in the first place.