Innovation is often birthed from problems. It is necessary at times of stress.
Read this poem.
The Ambulance Down in the Valley
Joseph Malins (1895)
‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally;
Some said, “Put a fence ’round the edge of the cliff,”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became full of pity
For those who slipped over the dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.
“For the cliff is all right, if you’re careful,” they said,
“And, if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn’t the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below when they’re stopping.”
So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would those rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked: “It’s a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief,” cried he,
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.”
“Oh he’s a fanatic,” the others rejoined,
“Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He’d dispense with all charities, too, if he could;
No! No! We’ll support them forever.
Aren’t we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence,
While the ambulance works in the valley?”
But the sensible few, who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;
They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will soon be the stronger.
Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,
And while other philanthropists dally,
They will scorn all pretense, and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling.
“To rescue the fallen is good, but ’tis best
To prevent other people from falling.”
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence ’round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
I recently heard a parent describe her response to an agency request. The agency wanted this mom to consider Lifesharing for her son. At first, the mom was pretty opposed to the idea. Her perspective was that she had already given him up to the community living home; why should she give him up again to a family? When the mom learned that the Lifesharing provider was someone who had been an employee at a community living home that she trusted, she changed her mind. After visits with the family, her son moved in and he loves his greater independence. His mom is happy too. She needed the right assurance from the right person that the outcome would be the best for her son.
I recently heard a story about someone we support. He needed to have direct one-on-one services to travel to work. He wanted to travel on his own, and his family was nervous, but optimistic. His direct support professional offered him AVAIL app support. Two week later, he is halfway to independence with the support of the app. We saw the right tool and applied it at the right time to get the right outcome.
If we find a solution that addresses the real need and interest, amazing things will happen. We can rise up and meet challenges. It is OK to be cautious, but when we see only limits, we reinforce the barriers to success. We hold ourselves and others back.
Let’s see the challenge from all sides. Let’s see what we can do to remove the barriers.
Would you have guessed that this poem was written in 1859?