You have a fox, a chicken, and a sack of grain. You must cross a river with only one of them at a time. If you leave the fox with the chicken, he will eat it. If you leave the chicken with the grain, he will eat it. The sack of grain is cool with everybody but it can’t swim. What do you do?
- What are you doing with a fox anyway? They aren’t exactly domesticated. Does he plow your fields or guard your sheep? No and no. He steals your stuff and eats it. Unless he’s your youngest son, struggling with a drug problem but thinking seriously about community college, you need to ditch him.
- Train your chicken to delay gratification by offering her one grain now or 5 grains if she waits for a minute. Do this a couple of times. If she doesn’t get it, and eats the grain after you leave, feed her to the fox. You don’t need such a dumb creature muddying the genetic pool of your livestock.
- Force-feed the grain to the fox. The chicken will be afraid that the two of them are now in competition for the same food source. She won’t risk angering the fox later by eating the grain herself. Meanwhile, the fox will be suffering from an identity crisis and probably won’t eat anything until you sort him out.
- Take all three across at the same time. When the boat starts to sink mid-river, toss the grain over the side. Blame the fox and the chicken for causing this catastrophe with their lack of impulse control. Force them to draw straws to see who has to drown in the river. The one who remains in the boat will strengthen future generations of your livestock because it has faced the great void of existence and come out with its own meaning.