This story is based on an actual event in the summer of 1988. I took my then six-year-old son to the public swimming pool at Jackson Park. As he was a non-swimmer we stayed and played at the shallow end of the pool. In the shallow end was a rather old fashioned metal water slide and a lifeguard tower chair situated directly in the water and facing the slide. The water slide was identical to the type one might find on any playground of the day except it had water circulating down it to cool it and make it slippery.
With some trepidation my son got into the queue to go down the slide. I stationed myself in the water near the bottom of the slide and off to the side in the event of a mishap. As it was a hot day there were several children in line waiting to go down the slide. A girl of about eight years of age was urging her younger brother up the ladder. He was about five. When the boy came down and hit the water butt-first he immediately stood up, or tried to. Unfortunately, even standing at full height, the surface of the water was well past his eyebrows, leaving only the top of his head showing. He began to flounder. I glanced up at the lifeguard who just sat there unwitting like a sphinx in sunglasses. I reached in and plucked the boy from the water. I took him to his presumed sister and admonished her to keep him off the slide and in the shallower water.
Am I a hero? Did I do good?
In reading the Bible, one of the things I disliked was the arbitrary breakdown of chapters and verses. I don’t even know who did it.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
In Romans we find Paul’s exposition of Matthew 19:17:
And he (Jesus) said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Which is probably a mindful reference to Psalm 53:3:
Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(At the time of the first penning of the Gospels and Epistles punctuation marks simply did not exist.)
But the question remains:
If no one doeth (or does) good; and I saved that little boy from drowning; am I still a hero?
I left the lifeguard with the delusion that he was a good lifeguard.
I left the sister with the delusion that she was old enough and adequate enough to be a good babysitter.
I left the mother with the delusion that she was a good mother.
I left the father with the delusion that he was a good father.
As to the boy: with such little oversight in his life, by this time he probably survived just well enough to enter the Criminal Justice System.
Did I do good?
Even Jesus himself knew he was a troublemaker.