|Union Grove Lake Waterfalls - Iowa DNR|
Imagine a large river with a loud, powerful, and majestic waterfall in the middle. If you stand at the bottom of the waterfall, you will see hundreds of people falling over daily. There are strong rescuers waiting at the bottom of the falls who wade in to the river, often many times each day, to pull the waterfall victims out. Sadly, some people don't survive the fall, some aren't able to survive even after they are pulled out. Joyfully, many who are rescued recover and heal.
At first, the work of being a rescuer feels rewarding, then, because of the personal physical and emotional resources needed for the work, the rescuers evenutaly get weary. Some have even fallen in, downing or needing their own rescue. Amazingly, some of the rescued are brave and strong enough to go back in and become rescuers themselves.
After a few days, even the strongest and bravest rescuers began to wonder, "What's at the top of the falls? Why are people falling in the river?
Each teller of this fable has their own metaphor for what's at the top, what's causing the people to fall in and tumble over the falls. Here are the four most common scenarios, including the one I use: 1) Bridges of varying strength and access that put some people more at risk for falling in the river (this is my second favorite metaphor); 2) people up top who made bad choices and got too close to the river or built their homes in dangerous places (victim blaming); 3) natural disasters (meh, very random, but indeed sometimes true); or my favorite, 4) there are bullies up there pushing them in.
I like the idea that it's bullies pushing the people in for two reasons. First, anyone can become a victim of a bully; aka - racism; misogyny; interpersonal violence; unexpected medical crisis; job loss (heck, never ever being fully employed); low wages; disability; targets of homophobia or genderphobia; tariffs; patriarchy; wars - you see where I'm going. Second, we can push those bullies in one at a time, and we can push them in over and over again until they drown and drift over the falls. If we work together, we can push them all in the river at once, to tumble over the falls and on downstream where they will decompose and transform into fish food and fertilizer for our river banks.
An even more radical thought? . . . maybe we can reform