Ducks for my Grandmother

A Happy Duck

Long before I was born, my grandmother decided that she wanted to keep ducks. I’m not sure why she wanted to keep ducks; I guess it was probably for the eggs. Whatever the reason, my grandmother wanted ducks, so my grandfather bought her some ducks.

Now, my grandparents didn’t know a lot about ducks. They did know that ducks like water, however, so in a genuine effort 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 indeed swimming happily about, and so they would have left their ducks to enjoy themselves.

Unfortunately, it turns out that 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, and they often put a couple of bricks and a little ramp in the water, so that their ducks could escape from the tin bath if they needed to. My grandparents didn’t know this, however, so they provided no bricks, and no little ramp.

When, sometime later, my grandparents came back to check on their ducks, they were horrified to discover that things had gone horribly wrong. Sadly for my grandmother, and tragically for her ducks, their feathers had become waterlogged, and the ducks had drowned.

Somewhat traumatised by this whole experience, my grandmother’s duck-keeping days were done.

The Moral of the Story

What’s the point of this rather grizzly story? Well, my grandparent’s duck-rearing practices were based on false assumptions. They believed in what they were doing, but their beliefs were faulty. As a result of their faulty beliefs, their ducks failed to flourish, and their dreams of duck-eggs were scuppered.

It turns out that the same principle works in all aspects of life. When our actions are based on sufficiently accurate, sufficiently complete information, then we are able to promote the welfare of both ourselves and those that we care about. However, when are actions are based on faulty assumptions, then we reduce the probability that our actions will lead to the flourishing lives that we desire.

It turns out, then, 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.