I’ll never forget reading the “crabs in the bucket” parable in my sixth-grade textbook.
It went something like this (and I am going mostly off of memory): A bunch of crabs are going crazy in a bucket, clawing their way to the top. Not even he strongest ones are escaping.
A fisherman is asked why he hasn’t bothered to put a lid on the bucket to keep the crabs inside. H e says he not worried about the crabs escaping because crabs will always pull each other down if they got to close to a successful escape.
“Well, dang,” I recall thinking as a sixth-grader.
“Well, dang,” I think whenever that parable comes to mind now.
The parable, also known as “crab mentality,” is all about keeping other people from getting the things you want if you can’t get them, too.
People aren’t crabs and crabs aren’t people, but boy do some people try to drag you down when it seems you are getting too high and mighty.
“Where do you think you are going?” they wonder, pushing and pulling you down as they try to get where they thought you were.
With fresh claw marks in your back, you sink to the bottom of the bucket only to climb to pull the crab who scarred you back into the bucket.
Nope, the fisherman doesn’t need a lid.
My takeaway was: don’t be a crab even when others around you are clawing each other in the back.
It is easier to be a crab than not a crab.
It is the reason there is a crab in the bucket parable and “Schadenfreude,” the self-satisfaction derived from someone else’s misfortune, is one of the most cutting songs from the “Avenue Q” soundtrack.
As the song goes, i’ts feeling pleasure when a figure skater falls on her butt or a straight-A student get Bs.
Who do those jerks think they are, trying to successful?
If you can’t do a double lutz with out breaking your butt, why should they?
If you can’t get a B in chemistry why should they get to go to college, graduate and get a job that pays a living wage?
Not being a crab means you push other people up rather than cut them down, even if they end up higher than you.
It is “each one teach one,” not “each one claws one.”
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Not being a crab means giving a damn, not giving a tongue-lashing.
Not being a crab is being legitimately happy to hear good news about other people. It is not dwelling in “why-not-me?” thinking.
As I learned in sixth grade, being a crab is easier, but it is far from fun and you end up smelling like stinky fish water.
People know crabs from not-crabs and dream of devouring them with butter and fava beans.