The Leaven of Compromise

Nineteenth century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard told this story about a wild duck: While flying across Europe in the springtime with his flock, the wild duck came down and landed in a Danish barnyard where there were tame ducks. He enjoyed their corn, so he stayed for an hour, a day, a week, and then a month.

Finally, because he relished the good fare and the safety of the barnyard, he stayed all summer long. But, one autumn day when the flock of wild ducks were winging their way south again, they passed over the barnyard and he heard their cries. He was stirred with joy and delight, and with a great flapping of his wings he rose in the air to join them in flight. However, the good life had made him so soft and heavy that he could rise no higher than the eaves of the barn. He dropped back down to the safety and goodness of the barnyard.

Every spring and autumn when he heard the wild ducks honking, his eyes would gleam and he began to flap his wings to no avail. Ultimately, the day came when the wild ducks flew overhead and uttered their cries, but he paid them no attention. He had grown complacent and content with lesser things and forgot that which he was born to do. 

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