The Sandbox Parable
Once upon a time, there was a sandbox. And as most sandboxes are, it was full of children. It was a big sandbox, at a local school, with plenty of room. And for years, children played happily in the sandbox, sharing their toys and tools.
But as sometimes happens in sandboxes, one of the children began to bully the others, staking an unlabeled claim to the sandbox and its contents.
The other children tried to band together to take on the bully, to call attention to the bully’s behavior with the principal, but the bully was powerful and had parents with deep pockets, so the school turned a blind eye to the behavior in the sandbox in the hopes that the principal would not have to regulate the bully’s behavior.
And the bully carried on.
Before too long, the other children began to take matters into their own hands, writing things about the bully and working together to try to take back the sandbox.
But that didn’t work for very long. So one day, the principal called the children into her office, closed the door, and said, “You must find a way to coexist with the bully. I can not keep regulating all of you.” And the children in the office agreed, understanding that if the bully failed to behave that there would be consequences.
But the bully’s parents proved far too powerful, and when they learned that there had been a meeting in the principal’s office, they wrote a letter about the principal in the local paper. The letter spoke about the sandbox and coexistence and called out the principal for trying to enforce any kind of regulation.
So the principal, while having suggested to the children that there would be consequences if the bully failed to adhere to the new rules that were to be adopted around coexistence, changed her mind and announced her new decision at school.
In celebration, the bully took over the sandbox. And as a result, the sandbox became unsafe for children.
Until one day, the parents of the children called a meeting. And acknowledging that they didn’t have the power or the money or the influence of the bully’s parents, they recognized that they had the truth on their side and that the bully had made the sandbox unsafe for children. And together, they met with the principal and spoke about her legacy of the unsafe sandbox. And she changed her mind.
Today, the sandbox exists with rules in place to support the peaceful coexistence of all children with an important lesson to be learned:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does” ~Margaret Mead
To learn more about the USDA’s recent decision to abandon regulation over the coexistence of agricultural crops, please read the New York Times article as seen here.