Watch for persuasive snakes in 2014

By Hank Stratford on January 14, 2014

Stratford Hank websiteHappy New Year! Self-discipline will be the focus of the Do the Right Thing character initiative during January and February. A definition of self-discipline that has stuck with me is doing what you know you should do when you don’t want to do it.

One aspect of self-discipline is exercising self-control. This reminds me of a story I once heard, an old Native American legend.

Many years ago, Native American youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley. There he fasted, and on the third day he decided to test himself against the mountain. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders, and set off to climb the peak.

When he reached the top, he could see forever, and his heart swelled with joy. Then he heard a rustle at his feet. Looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke: “I am about to die. It is too cold for me up here, and I am freezing. There is no food, and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.”

“Oh, no,” said the youth. “I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and I will die.”

“Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.”

The youth withstood his pleas for a while, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass. Suddenly, the snake coiled, rattled and struck, biting him on the leg.

“But you promised—” cried the youth.

“You knew what I was when you picked me up,” said the snake as it slithered away. (From Iron Eyes Cody, “But You Promised,” Reader’s Digest, June 1989, p. 131.)

I hope that we can exercise self-control in our lives and that we can help our kids avoid picking up those “persuasive snakes” that will only harm them.

In 2014, Clayton will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as an incorporated city. Clayton was founded in 1857 and incorporated in 1964. You’ll hear more about this anniversary in the upcoming months.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2014! Feel free to contact me with questions and comments at

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