This is a true story.
Long before I was born, my grandmother decided she wanted to keep ducks. I’m not sure why she wanted to keep ducks; it was probably for the eggs. Whatever the reason, my grandmother wanted ducks, so my grandfather bought her some ducks.
Now, my grandparents knew little about ducks. They did, however, know that ducks like water. To keep their ducks happy, they fetched an old tin bath from the shed, half filled it with water, and plopped the ducks into it. No doubt they observed the ducks for a while, satisfying themselves that the ducks were contentedly swimming about in the bath. Delighted that their ducks were happy, and they left them to it.
Unfortunately, it turns out that ducks – especially young ducks – need to get out of the water from time-to-time. They need to get out of the water to re-oil their feathers, otherwise they get water-logged and they can’t stay afloat. Experienced duck-owners know this. Often, they will put a couple of bricks and a little ramp in their ducks’ swimming-water, so that their ducks can escape when they need to. My grandparents didn’t know this, however, so they provided no bricks, and no little ramp.
My grandparents soon learned about their mistake. When came back to check on their ducks, they discovered things had gone badly wrong. Sadly for my grandmother, and tragically for her ducks, their feathers had become waterlogged, and the ducks had drowned.
And this was the end of my grandparents’ duck-rearing dreams.
Not everyone has grandparents who have drowned ducks.
The Moral of the Story
What’s the point of this rather grizzly story? Well, my grandparents based their duck-rearing practices on false assumptions. They believed in what they were doing, but their beliefs were faulty. It was because of their faulty beliefs that their ducks failed to flourish.
It turns out that the same principle works in other aspects of life. When we base our actions on sufficiently accurate, sufficiently complete information, we can promote the welfare of both ourselves and of those that we care about. However, when are we base our actions on faulty assumptions, we reduce the likelihood of success.
It turns out that truth is the foundation of a flourishing life. If we want to flourish, if we want to achieve anything of value, then a solid grasp on reality is essential.
- Image courtesy Alain Acarpentier [CC BY 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons