The always edgy and paradoxical (late) Edwin Friedman says that some time ago he stopped trying to educate people and instead began trying to free them from this "syndrome". He developed a presentation called, How to Get Your Kid to Drop Out and Save $100,000 in Tuition. He began every session by describing the techniques he would introduce such as: how to escalate conflict, screw up communication, and increase the generation gap. He insisted that parents read everything they can about parenting to ensure that they become more anxious, and inconsistent, and less the kind of self-confident, non-anxious, challenging presence that could ultimately cost them a bundle.
Below I have included one of his Fables that I think relates. Tell me what you think.
It is a moonlit night and alone in his thoughts he starts crossing a bridge. The man sees out of the corner of his eye a stranger dressed much like himself coming towards him. He thinks the man approaching is putting his hand out to greet him. However, the stranger has the end of a rope in his hand with the other end entwined around him.
The stranger asks the man to hold the end of the rope. Whilst perplexed the man complies.
The stranger asks the man to hold on tight with two hands and then promptly jumps off the bridge toward the swift running deep river below. "Hold on" the stranger cries. The free-falling body hurtled the distance of the rope's length, and from the bridge the man abruptly felt the pull. He held tight despite being almost pulled over the side of the bridge.
Peering down at the stranger who was close to oblivion, the man yelled, "What are you trying to do?"
"Just hold tight," said the other.
The man tried to haul the stranger in but he could not. He could not get enough leverage. His strength was almost perfectly counterbalanced by the other man's weight.
"Why did you do this?" the man called out. "Remember," said the other, "if you let go, I will be lost." "But I cannot pull you up," the man cried. "I am your responsibility," said the other. "Well, I did not ask for it," the man said. "If you let go, I am lost," repeated the other.
The man looked around for help, tried to invent solutions but could not think of any that would work. He waited for someone to come and help pull the stranger up, but no one came. Fearing that his arms could not hold out much longer, he tied the rope around his waist.
"Why did you do this?" he asked again. "Don't you see what you have done? What possible purpose could you have had in mind?" "Just remember," said the other, "my life is in your hands."
Time passed and a decision needed to be made. The man could not hold on much longer.
A thought occurred to him. If the stranger hauled himself up and he kept the end steady and pulled a bit, together they could get the stranger back to safety. But the other wasn't interested.
"You mean you won't help? But I told you I cannot pull you up myself, and I don't think I can hang on much longer either." "You must try," the other shouted back in tears. "If you fail, I die." The point of decision arrived. The man said to the other, "Listen to me. I will not accept the position of choice for your life, only for my own; the position of choice for your own life, I hereby give back to you."
"What do you mean?" the other asked, afraid. "I mean, simply, it's up to you. You decide which way this ends. I will help you if you help yourself."
"You cannot mean what you say," the other shrieked. "You would not be so selfish. I am your responsibility. What could be so important that you would let someone die? Do not do this to me."
He waited a moment. There was no change i the tension of the rope. "I accept your choice," the man said, at last, and freed his hands.
Thought? Perspectives? Insights? Questions?
- How does this Fable relate to living at peace with others?
- Does this Fable promote selfishness?
- What would you do in this situation?
- What do you do in these situations?
- What do you think God wants you to do in these situations?