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Throw the baby out with the bath water 把洗澡水连同婴儿一起倒掉

中国日报网 2021-01-22 12:20


Reader question:

Please explain the saying “throwing bathwater with the baby”?

My comments:

Don’t do it. That’s the main thing.

This is a proverb that is used almost always in the negative. In other words, don’t do it.

First of all, we need to understand it. The full and proper proverb is this: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

This means, literally, that it’s stupid to bathe a baby and then throw out the dirty bath water along with the baby in the tub.

Metaphorically, this means you don’t want to lose what’s valuable while trying to get rid of something undesirable.

The image of a careless mother standing up to throw out the tub of bath water before realizing the baby has not been pulled out of the water should be vivid enough to teach us the lesson. That’s how proverbs work. They speak an easily relatable truth and are serviceable as useful advice.

In sum and in short, throwing out the baby with the bath water represents careless, thoughtless or utterly nonsensical behavior.

Don’t do it.

And here are media examples of the proverb, which is German in origin, in various forms and situations:

1. Americans who lament the political furor over immigration in the United States might take heart - or be even more depressed - to hear that American politicians aren’t the only ones holding immigration out as an election lighting rod.

There is an upcoming election in the Canadian province of Quebec that shows immigration to be a contentious issue wherever you go. There are currently two issues in Quebec immigration that have tongues wagging the most. One has an American connection, the other a financial one. Both have turned the heat way up in the election of Quebec's next premier. Let’s look at both.

The American Connection

In the early days of 2017, both Trump and Trudeau did something that had a direct impact on Canadian immigration. The first move was Trump’s. On January 27, he issued an executive order of a 90-day travel ban for some Muslim-majority countries. Though the ban was stayed by the courts and turned into a stemwinder of a case, the rhetoric and messaging from the White House put certain people on notice that they were not welcome in the United States.

At roughly the same time, and apparently to ease tensions for those affected by the American travel ban, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent out what became a controversial tweet that said, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

How much of an impact did this tweet have on the direction of Canadian immigration? Hard to say, but what appeared to happen was that more people started trying to cross into Canada illegally. Hundreds of people per week began coming over the border to seek refugee status.

The Trump administration then exacerbated the problem by announcing they would remove the Temporary Protected Status of several hundreds of thousands of people like those from Haiti. Soon, Canada was seeing thousands of migrants, including Haitians, appearing at the Quebec border. In an added twist, Canada also began seeing Nigerian migrants who had not been living in the United States at all. It seems that after 18 months of news reports that Canada must hear your asylum claim as long as you get into the country, people started rolling the dice on it. They filed for U.S. travel visas, flew to the United States and then drove to the Quebec border to walk across.

The political fallout has been predictable. Cities and provinces - especially Quebec - are demanding money in order to help and house the migrants. Toronto is doing likewise, and was forced to house migrants in student dormitories this summer, only to then move them to hotels when the students had to come back to school. The strain on the immigration system has been huge, with a backlog of 30,000 refugee cases and rising. These cases will not be heard for years. According to the Globe and Mail, the Immigration and Refugee Board has only processed 15 percent of the roughly 30,000 asylum claims made in Quebec between last February and this June.

Populist resentment is rising as a result. In the Quebec election, Francois Legault, party leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, is now seeking to cut Quebec immigration by 20 percent and institute values and language tests on all immigrants after three years. If they flunk, they’re deported. On the other side, Liberal leader Philippe Couillard has said he wants immigration levels to stay the same, but he’ll ramp up efforts for French lessons and try to integrate people into the economy. Precisely how he’ll do that is unclear.


It remains to be seen how deep the scandal goes. However, despite the recent news reports about investors abandoning the province after being approved, in the last two or so years, Quebec officials have been tightening up the residence requirement, making sure investors live in Quebec as part of their approvals. Let’s hope officials now reviewing the program as a result of the news reports, do not throw out the baby with the bath water.

- Never A Dull Moment When It Comes To Immigration, Forbes.com, September 26, 2018.

2. In 1976, my trigeminal neuralgia started. In those days, the environment regarding chronic pain was very different. My doctor had only one agenda: He wanted to stop or reduce my constant debilitating and disabling pain.

He couldn’t cure me, so he ordered opioid pain medication. When one opioid didn’t work, he tried another; Darvon, Percocet, Percodan, Demerol. So many I can’t recall them all. When none helped, he prescribed an 8-ounce bottle of opium.

The first pharmacist who saw the opium prescription shook his head. “Sorry. We don’t carry it,” he said. The next pharmacy did. “Have a seat. It’ll just be a few minutes,” the pharmacist said.

I wasn’t looked at askance. No questions were asked about my doctor or diagnosis. I wasn’t warned: “This is a very strong drug. You need to be careful. You could become addicted.”

They trusted that my doctor knew what he was doing. They trusted me to be a responsible patient. I doubt it ever entered the pharmacist’s mind that I might be a drug seeker or abuser.

Now the tables have totally turned. Many of us get questioned by pharmacists. And some of our doctors have stopped writing opioid prescriptions. They should be cautious, right? Because opioids are addictive, you can become dependent or have other bad side effects. And they can be used illegally.

The same is true for steroids. Yet there seem to be no politicians, physicians or groups with an agenda that are working to scare the public about steroids or trying to get doctors to stop “overprescribing” them.

When steroids first came out there were many, many horror stories about them. The 1956 film Bigger Than Life was about a school teacher (James Mason) taking corticosteroids. They helped his pain from an autoimmune disorder, but he soon became hyper-manic and ultimately psychotic, even trying to murder his son.

His doctor reduced the dosage, but because steroids helped his pain, the teacher continued to take more than prescribed. He even goes to another town, impersonates a doctor, and writes a fake prescription to obtain more of the pills.

Sound familiar?

The movie was a caricature of the potential risks of steroids, which include dependency and addiction. Opioids have the same risks, but most patients with chronic pain take them responsibly, as most on steroids do, and they do not become addicted, try to obtain them fraudulently or go off the deep end.

There will always be bad actors who will be irresponsible, but users of any medication should not be demonized because of a few bad apples. Steroids are easily obtained and the patients who use them are not seen as potential felons. And why would they? For most patients, steroids can be very helpful.

Those who can still get opioids for their pain are often seen as potential miscreants. Yet studies also show that for most patients, opioids do help.

You don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. You don’t create guidelines scaring doctors into not writing steroid prescriptions because a small percentage of people will misuse or abuse them.

The medical community and the government need to stop throwing out the bathwater. When they refuse to write prescriptions for opioids that have helped patients, the side effect — intentional or not — is to throw us away, too.

- A Pained Life: Don’t Throw Out the Bathwater, by Carol Levy, September 03, 2020.

3. The “Gifted and Talented” program in New York City is coming to an end.

The Department of Education is phasing out the controversial exam that fast tracks some gifted elementary school students.

A school diversity advisory group recommended the city move away from the exam and toward a system where all students get additional enrichment programs.

“There are children in New York City who have the capabilities to do more and to do more difficult work but you don’t do that by putting them in a special program and saying only these students get to do those types of assignments or have those types of experiences,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said.

The Department of Education released a statement that said, in part, “We believe there is a better way. We will spend the next year engaging communities around what kind of programming they would like to see that is more inclusive, enriching, and truly supports the needs of academically advanced and diversely talented students at a more appropriate age. We will also engage communities around how best to integrate enriched learning opportunities to more students, so that every student - regardless of a label or a class that they are in - can access rigorous learning that is tailored to their needs and fosters their creativity, passion, and strengths.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio says a new approach will be announced by September.

“The gifted and talented test is the definition of a high stakes test, a single test, that determines so much,” he said. “This approach to testing is not something I believe in.”

However, for this year, the test will be given in April, and families will receive their scores early this summer ahead of fall 2021.

There are a combined 2,500 kindergarten seats for 15,000 applicants, and approximately 65,000 rising kindergarteners across the city.

“Do you really believe that out of 65,000 kindergartners in the city, only 2,500 of them are gifted and talented?” de Blasio said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Students currently in the Gifted and Talented program, and those who begin in the fall, will be able to complete their elementary school program.

Not everyone is in favor of getting rid of the test, however. Dr. Rebecca Mannis, a learning specialist, says the test is important for identifying learning capacity and achievement and shouldn’t be abandoned.

“I think it’s a huge mistake,” she said. “I do believe we are throwing out the baby with the proverbial bath water, when this is an opportunity to fine tune to make sure all students are gifted to get what they need.”

- NYC's Gifted and Talented program testing for rising kindergartners set to end, ABC7NY.com, January 14, 2021.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


Toxic masculinity? 有毒的男子气概


Do a number on him? 彻底挫败某人


Wild goose chase? 劳而无功的事


Alternative medicine? 替代疗法


All hands on deck? 召集一切力量

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