A Parable for Our Time?

A Parable for Our Times?  —by Jinny Batterson

A number of years ago, a friend told me the following parable, which I’ve adapted slightly to fit our current situation:

During a rare break in legislative sessions, a small bipartisan group of junior legislators arranged a recreational outing at a big scenic lake nearby.  Everyone was invited. The hosts hoped that during this lull in legislative routine, they could begin to rebuild some of the trust and cooperative spirit that had badly frayed during several previous contentious debates.

All was going well, with even a slight uptick in cordiality, until a sudden storm came up and capsized the large tour boat where everyone was riding. Panic set in; most passengers were thrown overboard. Two of the area’s leading legislators, one from each party, were thrown further from the main boat than the rest, out of sight of the others. Just as both were about to go under, neither having learned to swim, they spied a small row boat nearby. At first it seemed they might come to blows or try to keep each other out of the smaller boat, but after a bit both made it in, one at either end.  Although there were oars in the oar locks, neither legislator made any move toward rowing to shore. Instead, the two sat, stone-faced, as the small boat floated in circles in the middle of the lake. A while later, the boat began to fill with water—it was likely not a brand-new boat and had perhaps not had the best of maintenance. There was a bailing bucket attached to a rope on the boat’s floor, but neither legislator made a move toward bailing, either. Instead, the two continued to glare at each other.

Finally, one concentrated his most withering gaze on the other and said with a sneer, “Your end of the boat is sinking.”    

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