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How To Boil A Frog

Updated on March 15, 2008

Heating the kettle


If you've been around for any length of time, you've probably heard the analogy about the boiling of frogs. Basically, it goes like this: if you heat up a pot of rolling, boiling water, and drop a live frog into it, the frog will wisely jump right out and immediately jump as far away as amphibiously possible. However, if you put a frog in a pot of cold water, and very gradually turn up the heat in the pot, the frog will be unaware of the gradual change and will thus allow himself to be boiled alive.

Not a pretty picture, I know. But I tell it to make an ugly point.

Within the last year, I've read some books that have illustrated how people can fall prey to this phenomenon more readily than any of us would have thought possible. The first book, Night by Elie Wiesel, was written by a Nazi Holocaust survivor and tells his story about his captivation and the horrendous brutality and inhuman treatment through which he survived. His book was originally written in 1955, following a ten year vow to himself not to write of the atrocious memories he endured.

What has always stricken me about Holocaust accounts is seeing how the people involved didn't see it coming - clearly, this interests me because I want to make sure if there's ever a similar situation brewing in my environment that I see it and act quickly. The movie The Pianist illustrates this so well - the film that justifiably catapulted Adrien Brody to stardom.

The Water Starts To Bubble . . .


Here's an excerpt from Elie Wiezel's book. The following text is from his acceptance speech for the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize:

"I remember: it happened yesterday, or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the Kingdom of Night. I remember his bewilderment. I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.

"I remember he asked his father, "Can this be true? This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?

"And now the boy is turning to me. "Tell me," he asks, "what have you done with my future, what have you done with your life?" And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.

"And then I explain to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."

Boiling Tensions . . .


Incidences of "ethnic cleansing" are, unfortunately, not all in the past. You may or may not be aware of the Rwandan Holocaust in 1994. The movie, Hotel Rwanda was a moving account of the massacre, which I recommend. I also recommend one of the most significant and moving books I have ever read.

The book, "Left To Tell", by Immaculee Ilibagiza, is her own story about being caught in the middle of the Rwandan Holocaust. If you have seen the movie, Hotel Rwanda, you have been introduced to what happened in mid-1994 in this African nation. Within the span of 90 days, nearly a million Rwandans were killed in what was an attempt to exterminate all members of one tribe - the Tutsis, from the face of the earth. Immaculee did not even know she was a Tutsi until she was ten-years old, because her parents didn't want their children perpetuating the cycle of ethnic violence between them and the Hutus. She describes the country of her birth as "paradise", and grew up in a loving family who were supportive, caring and leaders in their community. They were well educated and, in fact, she was home on break from her college studies when the atrocities broke out.

At first, she and her family thought the growing words of violence were just from radicals - people you didn't really have to worry about. But then, it turned bloody. Ultimately, the Hutu government at that time made it the duty of all Hutu citizens to exterminate all Tutsi "cockroaches" until "the job was done." Immaculee was hidden in a tiny bathroom with seven other women for 91 days, while she could hear the killings - by machete - all around her. Men, women, old folks, children, babies, were chopped up and left to be scavenged by birds and dogs. A million of them.

Her story is real, engaging, and immensely important - I wholeheartedly agree with Wayne Dyer in the introduction when he says "I've read thousands of books over the past 50 or so years. The book you hold in your hands is by far the most moving and poignantly significant of the vast library that comprises my lifetime of personal reading."

I highly encourage you to read this truly remarkable book - I cannot overemphasize its importance.

Since Rwanda, we see news stories about related events in Bosnia. Darfur.

Being Vigilant

For 43 years, I've lived with the name Gregory. From Wikipedia: "It is derived from the Latin "Gregorius," which was from the late Greek name "Γρηγόριος" (Gregorios), which was derived from "γρήγορος" (gregoros) meaning "watchful, alert". Vigilant.

Evidently, we will have to remain vigilant of this type of human atrocity now and forever. It's not just a tired old headline, and it's not for some undefined other person to handle for us. Each of us has strength, power and the ability to affect change, and not be neutral.

Don't let yourself reflect back on your life within the context of the history that is being made today and wish you could have acted on something that was well within your ability to control or at least influence.

The pot of water is boiling. Blow out the fire beneath it.


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    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Aw, no guilt trip! Only fun and interesting trips this summer! Seriously, as I've mentioned before, these are thoughts I share to move them from the more clouded space in my mind, to the more tangible on paper - which means, I'm largely talking about myself. But, knowing how we are each part of the collective consciousness, especially in the "eighth continent" (the Internet), I felt it was important to add my two cents, surrendering to whatever effect it may or may not have. That's my truth.

      You are already doing it, Klara. You have much to say, and the robust audience you have here on HP speaks to the thirst for your kind of sharing. Just keep doing what you're doing. We all benefit greatly.

      Have a wonderful weekend, and summer!


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent! You've managed to give me a guilt trip. :(

      For years, I've avoided telling my story. Now, through this article, you've made me see things differently. I just might have to do what most exhiled Cubans do - tell the truth.

      Those of us who live in Miami are constantly reminded of the atrocities that are part of every day life in places like Cuba, Venezuela, and many other Spanish-speaking countries. But HP forums have brought to my attention that this is only a local awareness. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that can only be fixed by exposing readers to the truth. (sigh) One more thing to do this summer...

      You already know I only have great things to say about your articles, so I won't repeat myself. :D

      I am curious about this book you mention. I'll have to order it and read it... this summer, too. (sigh)

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Hi Froggy! Yes, I understand your concern; I hope my analogy didn't make you break out in a cold sweat... ;-)



    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 

      6 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Hi my friend; I got really concerned reading the title of your hub. Since we have the same first name, I would hope you wouldn't want to boil me.

      Great hub--yea lets put the fire out!

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Why thank you, pink!

    • pinkdaisy profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      Brilliant - Voted Up :)

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      anusujith and amuno - Thank you both for the positive words!


    • amuno profile image

      Alfred Amuno 

      6 years ago from Kampala

      Great first paragraph intro!

    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 

      6 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      Funny title, But useful content... So i'm putting good marks...

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      UnnamedHarald - I hope not, but am aware of that potential. Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst...



    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      We may be near to the boil already. Many people take it as a given that our communications can be read by government functionaries or that corporations can almost openly write Congress' bills and that you almost have to hire a lobbyist if you want to do business with the government. Then there's that scrap of paper called the Bill of Rights. Isn't that a quaint relic? There was also a time when peaceful protestors could exercise their rights without the police harrassing them.

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Wow - that's interesting to have written this such a long time ago and to wake up to so many comments! Thank you all - yes, it is a very important topic, and it underlies so much of my daily thinking. There is no such thing as complete security and resting when it comes to history and the nature of humankind. I'd like to believe these things were no longer possible, but as Jung described, it seems to exist in our collective consciousness, so we have to know it to recognize it and be vigilant to any issue that can awaken this shadow side of human nature.

      Thank you arb, Christin, Victoria Lynn, RTalloni and PhDast for your support!


    • arb profile image


      6 years ago from oregon

      G- shared this hub with my followers. hopefully it will get the attention it deserves.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      An excellent hub and a lesson for all - to forget your history makes you doomed to repeat it.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Wow, this hub needs to be re-circulated. It's wonderful. I thought from the title it was going to be funny, but it's certainly not. The analogy of the boiling frog is perfect. Elie Wiesel visited the University where I was teaching at the time back in 2000 or so and spoke to a crowded room. It was amazing to hear his story of what he saw as a little boy. Such an incredible hub with a great message. I'm sharing it, too!

    • RTalloni profile image


      6 years ago from the short journey

      "We have to remain vigilant"--most certainly, and work like this helps people think through the concerns.

      Thank you many times over for posting this meaningful essay. It's been posted 3 years and I'm just now seeing this? I'll be sharing your hub right away.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Gerg - I came to read your essay at arb's recommendation and I am glad I did. This is an important and very well-written hub. I could not agree with you more and applaud your effort to awaken people and sensitize hem to the importance of these issues.

      Most of the time evil takes root slowly, insidiously, like an unwanted vine growing. And then it is too late. Excellent use of Wiesel - Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide to illustrate your concerns.

      I teach history and I regularly discuss the holocaust and often cover the Rwandan genocide. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Many votes and I am sharing your hub.

    • arb profile image


      6 years ago from oregon

      Good Morning! Can't believe this hasn't been read more. Perhaps it has and there just aren't the comments. I lived in Germany for 8 years and visited Dachau. Wished every high school student had such opportunity. They would emerge never the same. As you note, these atrocities continue today around the world and our infatuation with ourselves and materialism veils the realities of a mad world. The danger lies in our ignorance to the quiet subtleties which pave the road for atrocity. We are never so far away ourselves, if we can ignor its exercise any where. Great hub.

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      Lgali - thanks, I appreciate your comment.

    • Lgali profile image


      9 years ago

      great hub i learn new stuff

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      Thanks SiddSingh - I appreciate your comments.

      Best ~ G

    • SiddSingh profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Gerg,

      Really great hub! I learnt something new, and now have something to think about too.


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