Babies in the River
Based on a story variously attributed, including to Saul Alinsky and to Irving Zola.
Once upon a time, there was a small village on the edge of a river. Life in the village was busy. There were people growing food and people teaching the children to make blankets and people making meals.
One day a villager took a break from harvesting food and noticed a baby floating down the river toward the village. She couldn't believe her eyes! She heard crying in the distance and looked downstream to see that two babies had already floated by the village. She looked around at the other villagers working nearby. "Does anyone else see that baby?" she asked.
One villager heard the woman, but continued working. "Yes!" yelled a man who had been making soup.
"Oh, this is terrible!" A woman who had been building a campfire shouted, "Look, there are even more upstream!" Indeed, there were three more babies coming around the bend.
"How long have these babies been floating by?" asked another villager. No one knew for sure, but some people thought they might have seen something in the river earlier. They were busy at the time and did not have time to investigate.
They quickly organized themselves to rescue the babies. Watchtowers were built on both sides of the shore and swimmers were coordinated to maintain shifts of rescue teams that maintained 24-hour surveillance of the river. Ziplines with baskets attached were stretched across the river to get even more babies to safety quickly.
The number of babies floating down the river only seemed to increase. The villagers built orphanages and they taught even more children to make blankets and they increased the amount of food they grew to keep the babies housed, warm and fed. Life in the village carried on.
Then one day at a meeting of the Village Council, a villager asked, "But where are all these babies coming from?"
"No one knows," said another villager. "But I say we organize a team to go upstream and find how who's throwing these babies in the river."
Not everyone was in agreement. "But we need people to help us pull the babies out of the river," said one villager. "That's right!" said another villager. "And who will be here to cook for them and look after them if a bunch of people go upstream?"
The Council chose to let the village decide. If you were a villager, what would your vote be? Do you send a team upstream?