Mighty Mouse and the Too-Short Ladder (A Yom Kippur Allegory)

Released September 13, 1998

Once upon a time, the arrogant Emperor of the Wealthiest Land in the West hid a secret from his dear friend, the Prime Minister of the Mouse State in the Middle East. He did not want the Mouse Prime Minister to know that the Rats of Arabia were building weapons to destroy the Mouse State.

A Brave Little Mouse, who happened to be in the employ of the Emperor, discovered this diabolical plot and pleaded with the Emperor's Officers to warn the Mouse Prime Minister so that he could save the Mouse State and all the mice in it. The Emperor's Officers mocked Brave Little Mouse and ordered him to be quiet!

Brave Little Mouse could not rest while he knew that his fellow mice in the Middle East were in danger. He ran everywhere, trying to get permission to warn the Mouse Prime Minister. But no one in the Empire of the Wealthiest Land in the West would give him permission, and no one would help him.

Finally, in desperation, Brave Little Mouse ran to the Mouse Prime Minister and told him personally of the Emperor's duplicity and of the Arabian Rats' plan to annihilate the Mouse State in the Middle East.

The Emperor eventually found out that Brave Little Mouse had spilled the beans to his dear friend, and he was furious! The Mouse Prime Minister trembled at the fury of the Emperor. The Mouse Prime Minister completely disowned Brave Little Mouse. He personally handed Brave Little Mouse over to the Emperor for punishment. And of course the Mouse Prime Minister did not protest when the Emperor chose the harshest punishment in the history of the Empire for Brave Little Mouse.

All the mice of the Wealthiest Land in the West, and all the mice of the Mouse State in the Middle East, said it was a shame, but never mind it was Brave Little Mouse's own fault for telling the Prime Minister all those secrets, and anyway somebody else will save Brave Little Mouse, but not me, so please don't bother me.

For 14 years, Brave Little Mouse languished at the bottom of a deep pit, 50 meters below ground. He was tried and tested in the most severe conditions for all of those years, and for more than half of them he was afflicted with solitary confinement. He remains there, even though others who committed far more serious offenses against the Emperor have long since gone home. There is no end in sight for Brave Little Mouse's dreadful punishment.

Every year for 14 years, some of Brave Little Mouse's brothers, for reasons of their own, come to the edge of the pit and check that Brave Little Mouse is still alive. They pose for pictures, taking care not to lean too far over the pit. They shout words of encouragement to him. They promise that they will do everything in their power to help him. They tell him they will be back. Brave Little Mouse knows that that they never mean it. If they did, he would no longer be in the pit.

After rotting in the pit for many years, Brave Little Mouse begins to fight back, not against the tormentors of the Empire, but against his betrayers in the Mouse State. From the pit, Brave Little Mouse launches two lawsuits against the Prime Minister of the Mouse State, and wins them both. The Mouse Prime Minister and the Mouse State are found legally and morally responsible for the plight of Brave Little Mouse and are obliged to rescue him as they would any Mouse agent. They promise publicly that they will do so at once!

Many months go by. Brave Little Mouse keeps waiting for the rescue team to arrive. It never does. The Mouse Prime Minister keeps promising to initiate an immediate rescue mission. He never does. Brave Little Mouse is ill and worn out. He can hardly hold on, but he does. Brave Little Mouse threatens to take action again. The Prime Minister of the Mouse State knows that he must do something.

Ta-dah! Enter Mighty Mouse Minister. The Mouse Prime Minister hands Mighty Mouse Minster a 25-meter ladder, and bids him go off to the Wealthiest Land in the West to rescue Brave Little Mouse from the 50-meter-deep pit.

Brave Little Mouse learns of the mission that Mighty Mouse Minster has been charged with. He fires off faxes and phone calls to Mighty Mouse Minister.

"Stop!", Brave Little Mouse cries to Mighty Mouse Minister . "You haven't got the right equipment! This pit is 50 meters deep and your ladder is only 25 meters long! You have no support team! You have no other tools! And the Mouse Prime Minister has not prepared the ground for you! "

Mighty Mouse Minister knows that every word that Brave Little Mouse says is true. He hesitates. He fears he may make a laughingstock of himself in the west. He conferences with the Mouse Prime Minister and the Mouse Cabinet Secretary several times and threatens not to go, unless he is given the proper tools and the proper support to actually accomplish the mission of rescuing Brave Little Mouse.

The Mouse Prime Minister convinces Mighty Mouse Minister that it is not a good idea to ruffle the feathers of the Emperor by being too honest. "A push to free Brave Little Mouse," he says, " would expose the Empire's betrayal of the Mouse State, and the Emperor wouldn't like that." So, Mighty Mouse Minister allows himself to be convinced that it is more important that the Government of the Mouse State be seen attempting to rescue Brave Little Mouse, than it is to actually succeed. The Mouse Prime Minster assures him that with the right spin, Mighty Mouse Minister will appear to be a great statesman, a Mouse diplomat! Mighty Mouse Minister really does know better, but submits.

"HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY!" read the Media releases from Mighty Mouse Minister's office. And off he flies to the Wealthiest Land in the West.

Of course, the ladder is too short, and Mighty Mouse Minister is empty-handed except for the too-short ladder. Brave Little Mouse protests vehemently that this initiative was nothing but a cruel charade.

And all the wealthy Western Mice and beleaguered Middle Eastern Mice read the press reports and scratch their heads. They don't understand what Brave Little Mouse is complaining about.

"True," they say, " a 25-meter ladder does not help, when the pit is 50 meters deep. But it doesn't hurt either!" All of the scared little mice of both East and West applaud Mighty Mouse Minister and tell Brave Little Mouse to keep quiet or the Mouse Prime Minister may stop these empty gestures completely!

With applause still ringing in his ears, Mighty Mouse Minister and the too-short ladder return to the Mouse State in the Middle East, empty-handed.

All the Mice from East and West find it hard to witness the terrible suffering that Brave Little Mouse still endures. So they all do their very best to avoid looking into the pit. But every now and then, Brave Little Mouse's cries manage to pierce the earplugs and blinders that they wear. All of Brave Little Mouse's brothers look at each other and earnestly agree. "Somebody really ought to do something to help him", they mutter, as they scurry away.

And Brave Little Mouse continues to languish in that pit, crying out to his brothers, right to this very day.