Chocolate, Rats and Open-mindedness

by Helene Louise  

Some things, I know for sure—or at least, I think I know for sure. I don't just think I like chocolate, I know for sure that I like chocolate. What's not to like? And, I know what I definitely don't like. I don't like rats. Just the thought of them gives me the shivers. But, is it possible that even though I like to believe that I am open-minded, that I have been too quick to judge—even the things I think I know for sure? 

I certainly like to believe that I am open-minded. For example, even though I was told many times over many years that because of the stroke my daughter suffered as a baby, there were many things she’d never be able to do, I kept an open mind and worked hard to help her anyway. As a result, she has exceeded all expectations.

I came across a reference to a study that shows, strangely enough, that even though most of us think that rats are disgusting and only concerned with their own survival, they have actually proven to exhibit something that we associate with humans—compassion.  In the study, a rat was restrained in a small cage while another rat was free to roam around his captive compatriot with a pile of chocolate chips nearby that only the free rat could access. What researchers found, was that rather than immediately starting to eat the chocolate, the free rats chose to persevere until they had found a way to liberate the captive rat, regardless of how long it took, all the while ignoring the chocolate. 

So basically, as inherently unpleasant as I find rats to be, it would appear that even if they are given the opportunity to keep a big pile of chocolate to themselves, if one of their own is in distress nearby, they will choose to help their fellow rat before eating anything at all. That’s definitely not what I would have expected.

I still know, for sure, that I like chocolate and I'm still pretty sure that I'm always going to find rats unpleasant. But, maybe there is still scope to be more open-minded—even about the things that I think I know for sure.

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