Saving Drowning People

October 19, 2015

Personal Growth

A couple of times I’ve walked the seventeen miles of a trail called The Virgin Narrows in Zion National Park—once from the top down in summer, which is the traditional but still strenuous approach, and once from the bottom to the top during late winter, which in retrospect could easily have resulted in somebody’s death.

I’ve learned that a number of people have died on that trail, some caught by the rapid currents created both by the fall of the riverbed and by the narrowing of the river between the close walls of the canyon. One man was drowning right before the eyes of the group he was with, and one of his companions jumped in to save him. Of course, he was jumping into the same swirling waters—a particularly dangerous phenomenon called a “roller”—that was drowning the first man, so he drowned too.

There are people drowning all around us. We may have the best motivations in attempting to save them, but first, we need to be certain that we don’t drown also in the process. Some people are just too empty or afraid for us to handle, and if we jump in without sufficient preparation, we’ll drown too. Learning when to help—and when not to—often requires a great number of mistakes, and we need only learn from them, rather than feel bad about them.

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