The parable of the fire brigade and the gardener

I take no credit for this parable, which was offered by “Pahoran” here.

I thought it was interesting enough to share.

Before you read it, check out the background for this issue here.

The problem is not that (Gerald) Bradford wants to do things differently; the problem is that he wants to do different things.

Here is a parable.

Once there was a city that had no fire department. A group of public-spirited citizens banded together, bought a good second-hand fire appliance, began training together, and pretty soon had a rather good working volunteer fire brigade.

There was in that same city a loosely affiliated group of semi-professional arsonists. Naturally, they were angered by the appearance of the volunteer firefighters. They began opposing its activities, muttering loudly that the fire brigade demolished more buildings than it saved, and that bystanders at fires sometimes got wet.

Nevertheless, most of the citizens appreciated the work of the brigade, and eventually the mayor of the town approached the volunteers and invited them to come under the umbrella of the city administration. The volunteers at first resisted these overtures, but eventually they agreed, and the new fire department was constituted, under the oversight of the deparment of Parks and Gardens.

Time passed, as it always does. The arsonists stepped up their campaign of disinformation. A new mayor was elected. The fire department increasingly came under the control of Parks and Gardens people who wanted more resources to beautify the city by planting flowering shrubs. Some of these listened to the murmurings of the arsonists, not realising their true source. Eventually they succeeded in getting rid of the original fire chief and began to divert the resources of the former fire brigade to their pet garden projects.

Bradford is a wannabe gardener who has been put in charge of a fire brigade and has no idea how to run one. So he’s disbanding it and turning it into yet another gardening outfit instead.

Both firefighters and gardeners have their place; and apparently only Bradford is unable to see that. To join forces with Bradford means to leave off fighting fires, including life-threatening ones, and only plant flowering shrubs.


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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.