Recently, in this season of waiting — that is, between our presidential election last month and the upcoming Presidential Inauguration on January 20, I heard a news reporter on NPR, in a reference to Mr. Trump’s choices for Cabinet secretaries say, “that it’s looking like we’ll have a fox in every henhouse.” And the phrase got me thinking:
From my younger years of farming I remember watching chickens by the dozens do their thing day after day, eating, roosting, nesting, clucking about, and for fun on sunny days, dusting themselves in the care-free shady corners of the earth and all its goodness. Even the ranking rooster, when all was well, spent hours-on-end strutting his majestic plumage, weaving, bobbing, high-stepping all about and doing absolutely nothing with aplomb — that is, until danger came…
…Be it fox or coon or marauding rat, the peaceful clucking ceased, the hens, who were first to notice and sound the alarm, winged their way high onto roosts while other mamma birds draped their wings to cover their fresh-laid eggs inside their hutches and watched. The rooster, alerted, and eyes now fixed on the approaching intruder, squatted low, wings flared outward and back, leaned forward and in a flash of feathers and muscle started running, flapping madly, straight at his foe then jumped midair with spurs and claws outstretched, intending to land square-on this threat that must be stopped.
The amazing thing is that most intruders, no matter their size, upon seeing that burst of fury and feathers and spurs reigning down, abruptly retreated to plot and wait for another day. (And I include myself among the retreaters too, having dodged more than my share of determined and protective roosters who came at me in real life, as roosters and as humans.) And once the threat had been averted and the hens and rooster sounded the “all-clear,” the ever bustling hen house chatter began anew but this time with a pitch of readiness and new-found solidarity.
There are lessons to be learned here. When one political pundit aptly described the President-Elect’s emerging Cabinet picks akin to a “fox in every henhouse,” the phrase immediately invoked fear among many people and not just among the riled up citizenry unhappy with the election results, but particularly, and most importantly, within the hearts of the real workers who serve our democracy and government day after day. These dedicated mission-minded trench workers, who clock in and out year after year, are the ones who see the need in their respective settings and who have been the most committed, and most determined to make a difference. Like the hens who sounded the alarm that danger had arrived, these workers, paid and volunteers alike, now need our help.
Bring on the rat patrol
Yet as in real life, not every fox and rat will score an easy meal in every henhouse. Some will scratch and hiss and howl, then do little else before scampering off in search of easier prey. And our job, it seems to me, in numbers that must grow, is to make the hopeful meals of all these rats and foxes damn near impossible to catch.
Most of us are “hens” and have our roles defined. And some, though fewer, are “roosters” and despite their swoosh and swagger they need our backing too. It may come by dollars or by petition or by marching side by side, but each of us knows our station and our henhouse and our clamor must be heard.
Me? I like my henhouse. It’s cozy. And I have for far too long enjoyed clucking merrily over this and that, dusting myself in the cool shade of satisfying henhouse victories. But no more. I am on the lookout for rats and foxes out to kill.
How about you?