Upstream - A Parable - Joshua Tree Leadership

Upstream – A Parable 

“I am standing by the shore of a swiftly flowing river and hear the cry of a drowning man. So I jump into the river, put my arms around him, pull him to shore and apply artificial respiration. Just when he begins to breathe, there is another cry for help. So, I jump into the river, reach him, pull him to shore and apply artificial respiration, and then. Just as he begins to breathe, another cry for help. So back in the river again, reaching, pulling, applying, breathing, and then another yell. Again and again, without end, goes the sequence. I’m so busy jumping in, pulling them to shore, applying artificial respiration that I have no time to see who the hell is upstream pushing them all in.”

Adapted from a story told by Irving Zola as cited in McKinlay, John B. “A case for refocusing upstream: The political economy of illness.” In Conrad and Kern, 2nd edition, 1986, The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical Perspectives. pp. 484-498.

– RdM

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *