The baby and the bathwater April 8, 2011Posted by Ezra Resnick in Belief, Reason.
The water is warm and comforting and familiar. Surrounding me from all sides, it makes me feel secure and special. The water has been here for as long as anyone can remember.
It gradually dawns on me, however, that the water may not be as perfectly beneficial as I had thought. It limits my movement, and separates me from others. If I look closely, I can see that the water is rather dirty and polluted, with various parasites and leeches lurking just beneath the surface. (The water has been standing still for ages, after all.) Painful as it is to admit, I think that the water is actually making me sick.
I cry out for the water to be drained away. But I am not heeded. At first, I am told that the water cannot possibly be the cause of my ailments: everyone knows that water is good. Those maladies that seem to be coming directly from the water are not the water’s fault — if there were no water, they would simply be caused by something else (and the situation would undoubtedly be even worse).
As my waterlogged skin turns blue and my toes go numb, I beg again for the water to be let out: its ill effects are now undeniable. Even so, I am told, letting out the water would be most foolish: for I would surely be sucked down the drain along with it. Is not the water warm and comforting? Does it not make me feel secure and special? The water is necessary for my own good.
But surely, I protest, there are other sources of warmth and comfort and security? Surely I am larger than the drain holes, and can withstand the removal of the poisonous water? But my protests are rebuffed: I may think I am large and strong, but in fact I am small and weak. Water is life, and without it I am nothing.
I sink further and further down, and begin to gasp and choke. As the toxic tide engulfs me, I manage to ask the smiling faces all around me one last question: What do you actually care about — the baby or the bathwater?