Don’t throw Out The Baby …

A baby in a wash tub
“The baby” may be thrown out with the “bathwater” when we disagree with an author’s views or beliefs and decide to dismiss an idea or to part company. Photo: Pixabay

For some odd reason, this idiom has popped into my head several times in the past weeks: “Don’t throw out the ‘baby’ with the bathwater.” A bit of a jaw-dropping idiom if you’ve never heard it before because, if taken literally, of course no one would ever do that.

So then, where did this come from?

Well (thanks, Wikipedia), this hails from the German proverb: das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten (“you must empty out the bathing tub, but not the baby along with it”). Wise. The idiom dates to 1512 but, ancient though it may be, is still used today.

I have been reminded, lately, of how easy it is to dismiss someone’s ideas (or even the person themselves) when we disagree with them. I confess, I’ve done that, or at least I have been tempted to do that. But one of many things I have learned is that, in doing so, something of value may be lost (“the baby”). This proverb cautions us against dismissing something of value, which may include a person or people that we disagree with—and not just their ideas.

This is one of those “don’t” idioms. We don’t often enjoy being told what not to do. That’s human nature. And we may decide to do whatever we “darn well please” … but in choosing to do so, we may be eschewing timeless wisdom—the stuff of proverbs—which is typically gleaned from the wisdom of life (sometimes respectfully referred to as “grey-haired wisdom”).

“The baby” may be thrown out with the “bathwater” when we disagree with an author’s views or beliefs and decide to dismiss an idea or to part company. Differences may be seen as a threat to our own ideas or beliefs.

I strive to hold to what is called “soul competency,” otherwise known as “soul freedom,” “soul liberty” or, as in the overarching realm of ethics or values, “freedom of conscience,” which could be interpreted as the right of every person to choose what they believe. Free will (it’s a wonderful gift). And this allows me to learn from others, even if I may not embrace our differences.

I tread softly in this freedom, though, as it carries with it much responsibility—responsibility for our own health and well-being, but also responsibility for the health and well-being of fellow human beings—and, truly, for all living things.

I hold fast to tenets that are dear and that guide me through life. And I am happy to share those with others, when asked. But—if you disagree with me, that’s alright with me. And I will not “Unfollow” you or “Unfriend” you (unless that is the healthier choice for one or both of us). But even in divergence, I can appreciate others and learn from them.

There is unity in diversity.

So, I will, no doubt, throw out the “bathwater,” but I will (as this proverbial idiom cautions) try not to throw out the “baby” along with it.

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