Babies in the River

Who keeps chucking these kids in the river?
July 09, 2020
Libby Willkomm

There is a parable that tells the tale of two people walking by a river when they notice babies floating down the river. One starts grabbing the babies out of the river, while the other runs upstream. The first asks, "Where are you going?! We have to save these babies," and the other replies, "I'm going to see who's throwing babies in the river."


Just as it's important to address immediate needs (babies in the river), it's equally important to seek policy reform for long-term, sustainable change. This is where I see the role of MLK's "inescapable network of mutuality". In order for everyone to thrive, everyone must work towards a just and equitable future, yet everyone can have a unique role in this "network of mutuality." And that's where High Road principles come in. By valuing and centering grassroots efforts and community voices while calling for collective, transformational change we're rescuing babies and keeping them out of the water.


Personally, I am much more of a "rescue babies" kind of person. I prefer to work on the ground, in communities, but I applaud those working at a higher level to make changes on a much larger scale. My passion lies in youth development. Ever since my experiences in youth leadership and civic engagement as a 4-H member, I knew grassroots change was how I wanted to positively impact the world. We have seen time and time again that the youth and young adult populations are at the forefront of organizing and demanding change. I truly believe that the reallocation of funds (starting with police budgets) to youth-based initiatives could radically change our world. Youth are our future, and based on the young people I've met, especially my High Road peers, it's a hopeful and optimistic one. Whether you prefer to pull babies out of the river or address where they come from, remember that we all hold critical roles in this "inescapable network of mutuality."