Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Lesson From Mice

Dr. John Calhoun, a psychologist, did an experiment with mice in the 1970s in order to find out what would happen in overcrowded conditions.

Eight mice were introduced into a comfortable, two-level, nine-foot-square cage. Before long (mice being what they are, the population grew to 160. The behavior of the mice stayed consistent. Over the next two years, however, as the population grew eventually to a staggering 2,200 mice in the same cage, behaviors began to change.

Dr. Calhoun kept the living conditions the same. There was always plenty of water and food. The temperature was ideal. There were no diseases. The only thing the mice lost was their privacy. There was no space and no opportunity to be alone.

The female mice began to wander around aimlessly. The males gathered in large clusters. Younger mice didn't fit in anywhere and occupied themselves with eating and sleeping. The mice grew increasingly apathetic. Their energy declined. Aggression set in. They attached each other. They lost interest in reproduction. Then something happened--the population began to crash. Eventually, every mouse died, leaving no new generation.

I realize mice are mice and people are people. But even if you take this experiment as a metaphor, the result is shocking.

God made us to live together--we are designed to vitally connect in relationships with others. But we are also designed for time alone--in fact, I'm convinced that the most important things happen between us and God only when we are alone with Him.