Exploring the origins, ethics and future of changemaking

The Parable of the Rescuer

In Stories and Parables on May 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

Once there was a family who went to picnic by a river. While settling in, one of the mothers saw a body floating down the river. She quickly jumped up, pulled the body out of the water, gave CPR and the man survived. Startled by the incident, the family sat reflecting on what happened. This lasted for all of ten minutes until another body came floating down the river.

Quick to respond, the mother jumped up, pulled the body out of the water, gave CPR and the man survived. As they were about to talk of the seeming coincidence, the same thing happened again. And again. And again, and again, and again. It seemed like every ten to fifteen minutes there would another body that would come floating unconscious down the river.

Of course the mother was wise to the world. She knew that simple saving people all day would exhaust her, so she enlisted the help of her family and other people nearby. Soon she had taught dozens of people how to conduct CPR. Over the course of the day, they managed to save dozens of lives and teach people how to rescue others. She was feeling pretty pleased with herself.

This was until a child pointed out the along with the bodies, there were also broken canoes and kayaks floating down the river. In all the drama, everyone had seemingly not paid attention to this phenomenon. In the drama of what was happening, all the mother could do was respond by saying, ‘don’t worry about the kayaks, those don’t matter. We really need to focus on saving these lives’.

At first driven by frustration at not being heard, he decided to go and investigate. He wanted to know what was causing all of this. As he made his way up the river, he came to a clearing with a large group of kayakers. They were all preparing to go one by one down the river. The boy asked, ‘what are you doing? Do you know that people are drowning down the river?’

The first man ignored him. He dismissed the boy as being troublesome, and not knowing what he was talking about. As he made his way through the crowd, he had the same difficulty; no one wanted to hear what he had to say. Eventually he found a quiet young woman who seemed to have some kind of respect amongst the group. He asked her to stop and come with him. Although she hesitated, she went with him down the river. Part way down they found a set of rapids that were so big and powerful, that despite how skilled someone would be, they would likely not survive it.

Having been woken up to this, the woman returned with the boy to raise the alarm and show her group the danger that this river presented. The group listened, and changed their plans. As she turned to thank the boy, he was gone.

 

** This parable is adapted from a story I once heard, that was actually very different. I just wanted to acknowledge that it is not entirely original, but then again, what is?!

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