Baboons are often referred to as “opportunistic eaters,” and, since they are fond of crops, they are destructive pests to many African farmers. They will eat fruit, seeds, grasses, bark, roots, but and meat. They eat birds, rodents, and even the young of larger mammals, such as buck and sheep. In South Africa, in order to catch and shoot the baboons that plunder and devastate their crops, farmers use a simple method.

They make a hole in a big pumpkin, which they fasten to a peg in the ground. Then they hollow out most of the pumpkin, but leave a handful of tasty seeds in it. The hole is just big enough for the baboon to get his hand through, but once he grabs a handful of the seeds, he can’t get his fist out of the hole, so he traps himself. Even when he sees the farmer advancing upon him with a shotgun, the baboon refuses to release the seeds and is shot.

Dave Wilkenson writes about Raynald III, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium. He was grossly overweight:

“After a violent quarrel, his brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in a castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.

This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.

When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: ‘My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.’ Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year … a prisoner of his own appetite.”

People are a lot like this. We abhor change. “Better the devil you know…” And the average person will easily succumb to his lower instincts, which make him easy prey for the advertisers, for example, who will sell him stuff he doesn’t need and can’t afford. The obese get fatter and suffer hip and knee problems, diabetes, and worse. Most of those stuck in jobs never break free of the debt cycle and cannot retire. Many of us are brainwashed and/or live in denial; think about the Jews when they had a chance to escape the Nazis in Germany and those who welcome Muslim “refugees” into their countries.

It takes strength of character, open-mindedness, courage, determination, and intelligence to break free of our bad habits, ideological chains, and destructive beliefs. We need to acknowledge it when things are not working, and to break free. So the next time you are offered advice, a new opportunity, or insight, put your ego on hold and try to view it objectively and calmly before rejecting something that could radically change your life for the better. Flexibility is what allows palm trees to sway in strong winds and survive and thrive.

Someone wrote, “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. It isn’t something you await, but rather create.”

Robin Elliott IPS Safety Inc.