Perhaps you’ve noticed that, from occasion to occasion, people like to offer parables on the blogs. Most of the time, these aren’t really parables; they are screeds with a bit of powder and blush. But, lately, I’ve felt a parable welling up within me. I don’t know that it actually has a particular target. Feel free to discuss that in the comments, if you must.
There once was a person who was travelling from one town to another. The way was treacherous, but guard posts and watchtowers had been established along the way in order to help travelers who got lost or found themselves in danger. Well, our traveler was caught in a rock-slide and trapped along the way. No amount of digging or wriggling seemed to offer escape.
Soon after the rock-slide, a group of oddly-dressed rescuers appeared. Each wore a harness that held a mirror directly in front of their own face. They called out to each other, listening to their comrades’ responses in order to judge where to walk.
As they approached, the traveler cried out, “Please help me! I’m trapped.”
The rescuers were galvanized. Each judged its own reflection closely.
Some were pleased with their ability to empathize with the trapped, enraptured by the sincerity of their own tears and sobs on the wounded’s behalf.
Others nodded sagely, noting their own freedom from obstacles and exhorting the trapped to choose similarly stable paths.
Still others carefully examined their own reactions to the trapped; were they showing forth sufficient compassion in reaching out to the trapped, while still conveying their own commitment to stability, order, and freedom of movement?
A final group adopted expressions of anger and despair so as to show solidarity with the trapped, decrying the unsuitability of the path, its many dangers, the likelihood of future rock-slides and the frequency of slides in the past.
Each of the four groups converged upon the trapped, hearkening to the voice and hoping to help. The empathizers offered consolation, the wise offered counsel, the committed offered the help they felt appropriate, and the outraged demanded that something be done. Each group saw its own reaction to the help offered and was pleased with the result. Each had done what they knew to do. Help had been extended. Each left in turn, satisfied.
Except the traveller, still trapped. No rescuer had ever even seen her.