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A Parable for Reformers

From the Omaha Daily Bee, January 27, 1913.

 ’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 around the edge of the cliff”;
 Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”
 But the cry for the ambulance carried the day
 And it spread through the neighboring city.
 A fence may be useful or not, it is true
 But each heart became brimful of pity
 For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff
 And the dwellers in highways and valley
 Gave pounds or 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 ever 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 those mishaps occurred,
 Quick forth would these rescuers sally
 To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff
 With their ambulance down in 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 it’s 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 around the top of the cliff
 Than an ambulance down in the valley.

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