FOR THE GOOSE....
George was miffed at his wife. They had been married for several years when things started to get out of hand. Georgia never considered George's feelings. When it came to deciding whether to go to the lake for a picnic or to visit relatives, she would make all the decisions. Seldom would Georgia ask George what he would like to do. What Georgia wanted was what Georgia got.
This is not to say that George was perfect. He would inadvertently say or do something that would hurt Georgia, but he made every effort to avoid doing so. Georgia was never that thoughtful. When she wanted to do something, she'd fly off leaving George with their six goslings to care for. Early in the morning, Georgia would just take off to the lake and spend the morning feeding. Then she'd spend an hour or two primping her feathers getting them to look just right while George sat at home watching the kids. When Georgia returned, she'd never think to relieve George from his duties so that he could go to the lake and feed; he'd just have to forage for food near their nest.
One day, George couldn't take it any longer. He decided to enlist the help of some of his woodland friends. First, he went for advice from the deer. He found a family of deer grazing in the meadow next to the woods and told them of his plight. They seemed empathic, but they were by nature quite timid. The best they could suggest was to put up with the difficulty, and if that didn't work, they suggested running away from the problem. George thanked them for their advice, but he knew that not dealing with the problem wasn't going to resolve it.
Next, George went to visit the badger feeling that he would have a better idea since he was less passive then the deer. The badger listened intently to George's tale of woe. His advice came quickly. He told George not to lie down and play dead anymore. "Fight for his rights, and the next time Georgia does her thing, retaliate and tell her where to get off." George left the badger all pumped up. But alas, by the time he returned to the nest, George had some second thoughts about the badger's advice. George reasoned that fighting fire with fire would merely get both parties burned.
Finally, George decided to visit the owl. He found the owl perched in the old oak tree deep in thought. Again, George told his tale of trouble. The owl closed one eye and turned his head to the left-and then didn't move or say anything for the longest time. About the time George was about to leave, the owl uttered his advice. "Your problem with Georgia, my friend, is one of imagination or more precisely the lack of imagination." Blinking again, the owl explained. "Georgia isn't morally defective; she merely lacks imagination. She needs to become aware of your feelings and how her actions effect you. Georgia needs to learn how to imagine how you feel when she behaves in her less than thoughtful manner."
The woodsy philosopher continued, "The next time Georgia displays this lack of sensitivity and imagination, sit her down and play The Goose and Gander Game. The purpose of this game is to develop one's imagination so that the person can become sensitive to others. Ask her leading questions about how she would feel being in your place. For example, if you had just come back from being away all day having left her to care for your goslings, ask her to describe how she'd feel if you then flew off to go drinking with your buddies down at the lake? Would she feel used when she was always being left to care for the youngsters? Would she feel less valued and put upon?
"After she can identify with your feelings, discuss with her how the two of you could develop a reciprocal relationship that is based upon caring for the other person's feelings as much as one cares for his own feelings. It will now be possible to develop a relationship that considers how the other person feels by their using their imagination."
The wise old owl paused and turned his head halfway around as if to look to see whether anyone was listening, then he said, "Remember; what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
This article first appeared in the Dixon Telegraph.