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A missionary who served in Africa tells of the region in Malawi (just Northwest of Zimbabwe) where the women go to the river for water. Every once and a while one of them will get swept into the water by a big crocodile never to be seen again.
River crocodiles can be enormous creatures, 1,000 lbs. and up to 20 feet long. They can run faster than a man, and if they go for someone standing next to the river there is no defense short of a person with a big gun who can shoot well. They clamp onto a leg or arm and drag the person off to drown and be consumed at leisure. They are especially aggressive in Malawi and prey on large animals also. A walk along the river there is not a good idea.
Everyone who lives around Malawi rivers knows two or three women who lost their lives this way. A few people who were attacked survived with significant injuries such as a lost arm.
Nobody thought to do things any differently until people from a non-governmental organization showed up and dug wells for water away from the river. Not only was this safe from crocs but it was cleaner water with no danger of contamination from sewage.
Nevertheless, some women continue to get water from the river. It may seem astonishing that when provided a safe source of water some people prefer to go on braving the danger, but they have their reasons. The well may be too far from where they live, it’s harder to fetch water out of a well, or perhaps they don’t trust the well. Perhaps they heard of someone drowning in a well.
There is the danger of the river, which is significant, but there is also the danger of the well, which is unknown. The unknown danger can loom larger in the mind even if on serious reflection it’s likely to be small.
So each person has to make a choice. And so it is with any number of things we face in modern life. The Toyota Supra is a fun car to drive. The Volvo is safer but boring. Skydiving is tremendous fun. Tennis is a lot safer but not as thrilling. Learning to fly a glider would be a great adventure but with some risk. Flying a flight simulator eliminates risk but it’s not really flying. A big steak would be great for dinner. A salad would be healthier but not as savory.
The crocodiles are lurking. Some people are comfortable with having them around. Others want them at a great distance. There is a price to be paid either way.Published in