by American Artist ~ Andrew Wyeth (1917 – 2009)
This is the kind of river I imagine
whenever I read "The Parable of the River Babies"
Slightly differing versions can be found
in Why Did The Policeman Cross the Road?
by Stevyn Colgan
and on the website of the
Unitarian Universalist Association
You can click on the links for detailed narratives, but, to explain briefly, a group of concerned bystanders or campers on the riverbank quickly come to the rescue when they see a baby floating by unattended. No sooner have they saved the little one from drowning, when along comes another baby, and then another. After numerous rescues, it occurs to the well - meaning life - savers that they are dealing with a much larger problem that must originate somewhere upstream. Perhaps the true dilemma is not drawing the babies out of the water but figuring out who -- or what force of nature -- is putting them in the river in the first place.
Similar to "The Drawbridge Problem," "Saving the River Babies" can be used as a collaborative learning exercise. After reading and discussing the parable, the problem - solving goal is to determine whether or nor there is a way to prevent the babies from being tossed into the river.
George Lakoff's distinction between Direct & Systemic Causation provides a helpful discussion aid:
"Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes — often combined.
Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned."
[More from George Lakoff on the topic of "Moral Politics"]
USPS Andrew Wyeth Postage Stamps