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Have you ever played a prank? How long were you able to deceive your receiver? Probably not too long and you likely yielded more giggles than gaggles. Such was not the case one blustery night in Arcadia, New York in 1847, when two sisters, Maggie (15) and Kate (11) decided to prank their skittish mother into believing their home was haunted. The two sisters playfully thumped the stairs after bedtime, with apples they had tied to strings. In order to further persuade and frighten their mother, they taught themselves to snap their toes to undetectably create eerie sounds which they conveyed to their mother and neighbors as communication with the departed. Their simple and innocent prank became more elaborate as others began to believe their charade. They were so successful that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes wrote about them.
During this time period in America, illnesses like cholera, diphtheria, influenza, and whooping cough were rampant. Families who lost children and mothers to these diseases were eager to communicate with their departed through the two sisters, whom they viewed as gifted mediums. The sisters realized there were financial profits to gain in not revealing their ruse. In later years, during, and after the Civil War others copied their scheme, preying on people’s sorrow and fear. Ironically, the sister’s last name was “Fox.” We often hear expressions, “Sly as a fox” or “Crazy like a fox.” And though these expressions originated long before the conniving activities of the Fox sisters, their behavior of preying on the vulnerable aligns with the reputation of their shrewd animal namesake.
For the last 2 years, the world has been touched, trapped, and transformed not only by the COVID virus, but more so by the decisions, regulations, and stipulations made and enforced by politicians whose solutions have become more punitive and expensive than the problem they initially sought to control. Similar to the Fox sisters who preyed on emotions, many politicians and leaders have done the same. Known as social scare, public fear has been incited, stirred, and fed to force acceptance and compliance. We now shame, threaten, and assassinate the character of those who do not conform. The actual long-term costs are unknown, and the present losses are astronomical. We are paying high prices in terms of social, mental, educational, developmental, and physical costs. Capable and responsible workers are few, trust in government is questionable, quality education is compromised, children’s educational, mental, and social development is delayed and/or halted. Though we now know most healthy people will survive the virus, we continue to imprison ourselves with fear. We are policing and reporting on one another. Our communities, families, and workforce are splintered out of unrealistic fear and pietistic expectations.
Let every fox take care of his own tail. ~ Italian Proverb
This Italian proverb literally means, to mind one’s own business; not in the sense of not caring for others, but in not policing, judging, or minding other’s behavior. The proverb implies the one must be concerned with one’s own behavior, feelings, and actions. Such is not the objective of tricky foxes who seek control by intentionally manipulating others’ emotions and fears through misinformation.
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
– Psalm 118:24
This verse mean that we should enjoy the blessing of today and every day. That we should rejoice, be glad, and speak graciously to others. That we ought to make the best use of our time and life. So how are you doing? It’s time to stop being outfoxed and become brave as a lion and busy as a bee. Are you with me?
Until next time!
Dr. Marie Yvette Hernandez-Seltz is the founder of Candescent Counseling, Consulting & Coaching. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She has spent the past 15 years studying self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, and the effects of environment and culture on the individual.