The Hamster-Wheel-o-Doom

There are many allegorical stories I tell to help illustrate points I am trying to make.  Many of them I heard from one person or another repeat, often with embellishments appropriate to the situation, and to whomever it was that I got this from, I apologize for not giving you credit.  If you are the one who told me the original version, please let me know so I can give you credit.  I recently related today’s story to a young slave in a discussion on why slaves sometimes need punishment.


slave errs

Master points out the error

slave responds that she thought Master is incorrect, and that he should let his slave get on with the business at hand.

Master perceives this as arguing, gets angry, and walks away for a moment to calm himself before replying.

Master clams down

slave calms down

Master returns with a clear head and thought out response, delivers same as his decision regarding the error, explains the correct behavior and response, or at least the behavior and response he requires.

slave expresses contrition and agrees to comply with Master’s direction

Master thinks to himself, “I handled that well.  I did not lose my temper, and I did not stoop to arguing.  I made a rational decision that I believe is best for both my slave, and for me, and described my wishes clearly to prevent a recurrence.”

Master believes the matter to be resolved, and except for the new desired behavior, puts the matter out of his head.

Master pat’s self on back, and calls for a cool beverage in celebration.


slave thinks “i did something bad”

slave thinks “he’s still mad at me and I’m still unhappy with my behavior!

slave thinks “good slaves don’t do things to make their Master mad.

slave thinks “things that makes Master mad are bad things”

slave thinks “I did a bad thing.”

slave thinks “if a good slave doesn’t do bad things, and I did a bad thing, ipso facto i must be a bad slave”

slave thinks “Master deserves a good slave”

slave thinks “I’m a bad slave”

slave begins to cry…

slave thinks “i don’t deserve such a good Master

…allowed to continue running the circular logic for a bit…

slave thinks “i’m a bad slave who doesn’t deserve a Master

Master should release me, I deserve it”

… let it cook a bit longer…

slave thinks “Master should release me, I deserve it, but he is too good and kind to throw me out”

slave thinks “I should be grateful for his allowing me to stay.  I must redouble my efforts on his behalf, so that he will continue to tolerate me disgusting presence”

Master pat’s self on back again, because he sees that what he has required is being done, and in fact there is an overall improvement in what the Master sees the slave doing.  He praises his slave, and calls for another cool beverage.

slave hears Master’s praise mocking her, because Master is smart and wise and knows what a bad person she is.

Slave can no longer stand it and crawls to Masters feet, breaks out in tears, and begs to be released!

Master is now in shock!  He was completely oblivious to how unhappy his slave was, and wiser people that he has told him that if there is a problem with your slave’s behavior, the first place to look for the cause is in the mirror.  He thinks if slave is this unhappy serving him, she should be free to find a Master in whose service she will be happy, and he releases her, and they part ways.

Years pass, they meet by chance, and chat.

“Why did you ask to be released” the master asks.

“Because I was a bad slave, and you deserved better,” she replies.

“What did I do or say to make you think you were a bad slave?” asks the Master

“Nothing Sir, you were wonderful.  It was my behavior that convinced me.”

The Master is puzzled, he cannot think of what she could have done, what horrible act could have caused those thoughts

“What behavior?” he finally queries.

“i had been doing the same horrible thing for months! Surely you remember.” she responds sadly.

Again, the master wracks his brain to no avail.  He finally admits defeat, saying, “No, I don’t remember.”

slave replies “I argued with you.”

The thing is that it did not matter what the behavior was.  The problem was one of perception.  The slave needed a place to be able to say, “Here is where my transgression was addressed, I have paid for my sins, and I have been forgiven. For some there is a need for a consequence, a punishment if you will, for their behavior.  Not with every slave, and not in every case, that would be too easy. This is why it is important to maintain good communications.  What I went to leadership training in the Navy they taught, “A bitching sailor is a happy sailor, it’s when the STOP bitching you need to worry.” I am not advocating for slaves to complain constantly, but if you stop getting feedback, you need to do some investigating to see what is going on.


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