The parable of the happy Turkey. Cut/paste and forward it to any/all of the happy Turkey's you know. It's kind of blunt, but it gets across an important point.
- In the morning, a nice man comes for a visit.
- He puts food in your bowl.
- The food is fresh and tasty.
- The food is always in plentiful supply.
- At night there's a warm place to sleep.
- The next day, the process is repeated. The nice man visits, he feeds you, and you sleep comfortably. It repeats day after day.
- You think: everything is right with the world. How could anything possibly go wrong? In fact, the only thing I really have to fear is getting hit by lightening when it rains or a the rare chance a fox might get under the wire and into the coop (which very seldom happens). The Turkeys that worry about this are pessimists.
- One day, the nice man arrives.
- The nice man grabs you.
- He lays you across a stump, your neck exposed.
- He raises an axe and cuts off your head.
This parable is courtesy of my compatriot, the philosopher of risk, Nassim Taleb (author of The Black Swan). He uses it to demonstrate how our expectations of the future risk on events in our immediate past. I think this parable can also be used in another way. It demonstrates how people that are comfortable are unwilling to question their vulnerabilities (why am I in a cage?) and dependencies (why is the nice man the only way I get my food?) until it's too late to do anything about it. In fact, they are mentally incapable of seeing anything worth worrying about, even when there are signs that the entire system that cared for them is about to turn deadly.
NOTE: Nassim points out this parable is critical to understanding why financial failures happen. He makes the argument that almost all financial companies and funds, from the idiot savants at Goldman Sachs on down, base their estimates of financial risk (risk is critical to finding a price for any financial instrument) on very short periods of measurement (the last couple of decades). So, in almost all cases, the chance that the price will go to zero on any financial instrument is MUCH higher than any of the published estimates of risk commonly used to make financial decisions.