November 24, 2021

“Ask the Animals …“ – 08

Sr. M. Monika März

A Pike in a Pond of Carps


This saying dates back to the German historian Heinrich Leo (1799 – 1878) who pegged this expression for the French Emperor Napoleon III. A pike stirrs things up. It creates unrest, it lets itself be challenged by new conditions of the time.

It is good that there are pikes in carp ponds. In management it is said that The pikes in the carp pond and five percent of similarily motivated employees in the entire heirarchy of the company ensure that the company’s driving forces do not dissipate.”

In other words: If today we call someone a “pike in a carp pond,” we are saying that the person creates unrest in a quiet or boring environment.

Jim: “The new employee brings very positive energy to the team.”
John: “Yes, a pike in the carp pond can work wonders.” (Am Montagabend, Bd. 5)

We find the same meaning in statements of Father Kentenich:

With religious communities in mind, St. Bernard once said something that also applies to each individual family. He said that in every community there should be a fish, a big fish, that keeps the little sticklebacks in constant motion. When the big fish is no longer there, then another big fish must be purchased, even at great cost! …

We don’t have enough money, so our dear Lord takes care that big fishes take turns in every community. It’s probably like that in a family, also. A pike in a pond of carps—the little carps always have to be stirred into action.”  (Am Montagabend, Vol. 5, p.112)

Why? Because otherwise we would become operationally blind; routine and complacency alway carry the danger that our missionary zeal declines in strength and vigor, that we do not dare new paths in contemporary pastoral care.

Am I a pike in a pond of carps?

Is there a pike in our family—group—parish?