On a warm summer day, a group of friends decided to go swimming. The warm breeze and fresh summer air floated around them as they laughed and played. Everything was perfect. As it often happens, two of the older boys grew interested in the same girl. The boys competed for the girl’s attention, each showing off and also trying to make the other look bad.
With the summer sun overhead, the group of friends decided to make a whirlpool and see how fast they could get the water to go. Everyone lined the outside edge of the pool and ran as fast as they could through the water. It was slow at first, but they all squealed with delight as the current grew so strong that they could just lift up their feet and be moved along.
In the water, the competition between the two older boys intensified. In their efforts to create the whirl pool, each tried to demonstrate how strong they were. Eventually they ended up across they pool from each other. Because each boy refused to be bested, the water was now moving much faster than most of the people in the pool felt comfortable with, but everyone kept going because they didn't want to be the one to look weak or get made fun of by the rest. At precisely that moment, the pool adventure took a tragic twist.
One of the friends had brought along his little brother. The water was deep for the young boy to begin with and with the strong current it was all he could do to bounce along on his tip toes and keep his head mostly above water. With each bounce, the current carried him along. Had anyone been paying attention, they would have seen the young boy’s growing fear and struggle. But the crowd of friends were not paying attention to the predicament of others, and the boy slipped and went under. When the boy was drug under and into the center of the pool, people began to call out for help. In order to save the boy from the current, they would have to stop everyone else from creating the whirlpool, and they all began to shout at each other to stop.
The two older boys screamed across the pool at each other, both demanded that the other stop. “You are killing the boy” cried one. “No, it’s you!” cried the other. And they each ran even faster trying to catch each other in order to make the other stop. Everyone else doubled their efforts to save the boy as well. They yelled louder and louder at the person across from them and pushed harder trying to catch them to stop them. “You idiots, STOP!” everyone yelled at each other, but the current was so strong that even if a person did stop running, it still carried them forward. “Can’t they see what they are doing?” said one girl as she tried to catch and stop the person in front of her. And even though the volume of the shouts and the efforts to stop each other became desperate, the water kept moving and the worst occurred.
Hours after the tragedy was over everyone who had been in the water felt terrible for the loss of the boy. Each was amazed at the foolishness of the others in the pool. Each person blamed someone for the tragedy, but most of the fault eventually fell on one of the older boys. Some thought it was one of the older boy’s fault, some thought it was the other’s fault. The group split over which boy was to blame and the town followed. Over time two groups emerged from the tragedy, each with one of the older boys as its leader. Both groups made the decision to redeem the tragedy by making sure nothing like it ever happened again. And wouldn't you know it, both groups decided to start a national pool safety organization. Of course this meant the groups had to compete with each other for donors and attention. Both groups passionately made the rounds in the town and eventually in the country, trying to stir up support for their cause…
Pool Parable Reflection:
1. What is your reaction to the parable?
2. Are the people in the pool responsible for the boy's death? Why or why not?
3. What keeps each person in the pool from seeing the role they are playing in the tragedy? What might help them each to see it?
4. If you could interview anyone in the parable, who would you interview and what would you ask?
5. Did the anyone in the parable learn? What did they learn?
6. What motivations, actions or words of the different people in the story, resonated with your current situations in life? Why?
7. What are the “swimming pool” systems you are currently caught up in? Which person are you? What does it look like to get out?
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