Training a Mule to Dance

As a rule, mules are not known to dance. Yet, it might be easier to train a mule to dance than to compel a First Amendment rebellious free-spirited soul to live under the yoke of the woke.

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Why this fascination with mules?

It’s a family tradition. Plus, it just seems an apt analogy in identifying those of us who are just mule-headed enough to value our own opinions without intrusion from bigoted indoctrination. Hence, the ‘yoke of the woke.’

Life has its share of yokes. It’s meaning hasn’t changed since Jesus offered it as a viable alternative. But what’s ‘woke?’ Until lately it was a common verb, but it has now been transgenderized to a noun. Nothing is off limits for transgenderization.

It entered the Urban Dictionary about 2017. It began as a harmless idiomatic expression, sorta like the word ‘cool’ meant in former generations. But lately it has been hijacked by the progressive self-righteous crowd. It now resembles a noose.

What does it mean? It’s a force-feeding imposition of an intolerant ideology and a distorted orthodoxy promulgated by mob movements hidden under the banner of acronyms. It seeks to force conformity to certain radical and extremist ideas, or else. Non-conformists are stereotyped with multiple ‘isms’ and ‘ists,’ effectively relegating them to the status of lepers. It demands bowing, scraping, and bending the knees to this repressive philosophy to fit in with the ‘our-way-or-no-way’ crowd. It’s strange music indeed.

Now listen, if you want to get someone’s fur up, try cramming down your own self-righteous views as gospel. Walls go up quick. It goes against the grain of mules and humans.

Mules have been trained for years for yokes, plowing straight furrows and staying in line. Back in the 1880’s my great grandfather farmed over 11,000 acres with mules. Not one of them was known to dance.

Besides, who would even consider attempting to train a mule to dance? It’s easier to train a monkey to walk on water. It’s a feat that’s never been achieved, maybe never even been attempted. Mules don’t dance, and that’s that.

Mules are intelligent animals, but stubborn, mule-headed they say. Their legs are too gangly for dancing, and they have no ear for music. Except country music, I’m told.

Mules are not household pets. They don’t eat treats from our hands, and they don’t sleep with us. Dogs are superior in many ways.

I get curious about the habits of mules and call a rancher in Arizona, Steve Edwards, a real mule trainer with Queen Valley Mule Ranch.

Steve, can mules dance?” He laughs.

“Well, mules are not born to dance, although with a good dose of metaphor one might ascribe mule dancing to a certain genre of people.” I don’t bite the bait.

He continues. “They don’t dance, but they do ‘weavings’ when they get ready to leave the stalls.”

“Weavings? Explain this.”

Well, when they get anxious to get loose, they begin to sway their hips, then their heads and necks. It appears that they’re dancing, but it’s totally innate behavior. They’re not trained to do this.”

You man they’re ‘dancing’ to their own music?” 


Tell me some more about the habits of mules.”

There’s an old Ozark Mountains saying, ‘You can tell a horse, but you have to ask a mule.’ Mules have a mind of their own. You see, mules are fearful, even though they can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. They view humans as predators, as well as other frightening things in their environment. Their reactions are fight or flight. Which is why farmers put blinders on them.”

“What is the purpose of blinders?”

“Simple.  If mules look left, or right, they see nothing. Hence, no predator. They simply plod on with the job at hand. Without the blinders, they might see something that frightens them. You don’t want to tangle with a frightened mule, son.

 Let me give you an example. The mare is the herd leader.  A new mule comes in. He sidles up to her, espouses new ideas. Her ears pin back, meaning ‘Back off, junior.’ But he pushes the issue. The mare’s tail swishes, ‘I’m telling you nicely, back off.’ He presses on. The mare swirls and administers a double-foot kick to the new mule. ‘Now, buster, I asked you, I told you and now I demand it.  Back off.’”

Is there a similarity in this analogy applicable to mule-headed humans?” I ask.

Maybe. But it would be purely coincidental. I know plenty but I ain’t calling any names over this here phone, partner. You want to hear about coon hunting mules?”

“Yes, but another time.”

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Living under the ‘yoke of the woke’…hey, if it fits, wear it.

Somewhere in the distance a banjo is strumming. The tune is “Dixie.” The ‘weavings’ begin. The mules begin to dance.


Bud Hearn

November 6, 2020