Shrimp Can Whistle
"I dream things that never were and say, why not."

When the name Nikita Khrushchev is mentioned, most Americans remember this scene at the UN in 1960. He was making a defiant statement like a child would...a very young child. However, he was the leader of the USSR during nearly a dozen years of the Cold War.

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Khrushchev and his shoe

Nevertheless, despite his immaturity at the UN, Khrushchev was First Secretary of the Communist Party. Despite his childlike behavior, he believed in the teachings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. "We wish to live in peace and tranquility. But if anyone believes that our smiles involve abandonment of the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin, he deceives himself poorly. Those who wait for that must wait until a shrimp learns to whistle." While he believed that the USSR couldn't abandon its founders, the USSR abandoned itself in 1989.

Khrushchev's comment intrigued me, because he was essentially saying about the USSR abandoning its founders, "Those who wait must wait until hell freezes over." Why did he mention musical shrimp?

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A Whistling Shrimp

The notion of musically artistic shrimp is beyond the pale for me at least initially. The issue of musical shrimp raises the question about how we envision seemingly inconceivable things. Essentially, Khrushchev was saying the same thing that Bobby Kennedy said when he paraphrased George Bernard Shaw, "Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not."

Each of us in our own way can live our lives waiting for hell to freeze over or for shrimp to whistle. However, my contention is for each of us to dream impossible dreams. Maybe shrimp can't learn to whistle, but we won't know that until we try. Writing off great dreams as merely pipe dreams and a waste of time spells certain disappointment and failure. In reality, great achievement has occurred in human history like sailing the great oceans, flying like birds, and journeying to the moon. If people didn't dream the impossible dreams, they wouldn't have occurred.

Interestingly, in two decades after Khrushchev's death, an obscure Polish electrician by the name of Lech Walesa changed Poland, Eastern Europe, and the world forever. He obviously could teach his shrimp to whistle. Gorbachev and Yeltsen saw a new Russia that Khrushchev never imagined. Now, all Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, and the former Soviet republics have taught their shrimp to whistle also.

We can teach shrimp to whistle. Here is my idea. Write down three seemingly impossible things that you would like to accomplish in life. One or more might be things that might have been tried already, but you failed. This is my list.

  1. Relationships.
  2. Interviewing Aung San Suu Kyi, Barack Obama, and Clarence Page.
  3. Helping a family come to America.

If any of my goals of teaching my shrimp to whistle were easy, I would have already achieved them. Compile your list of three items along with roadblocks, which prohibit you from reaching your dreams. Hey, I am working on addressing the roadblocks that are preventing me from teaching my shrimp to whistle.

Next, take your list to a good friend of yours. Tell that person about your unrealized dreams. Tell your friend that you want that person to hold you accountable for obtaining your dreams. Then go out and teach your shrimp to whistle.


PS In 1957, Vladimir Grinioff wrote Tale of a Whistling Shrimp. It is said that it was an Orwellian novel about the USSR.

Tale of a Whistling Shrimp, Grinioff, Vladimir B.

Tale of a Whistling Shrimp



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