Meaning: The full form of this proverb is 'one bad apple spoils the barrel', meaning that a bad person, policy, etc, can ruin everything around it.
Unfortunately the human tendency is to see THAT ONE BAD APPLE and assume that the entire barrel is ruined. Even if there are no other bad apples visible, it leaves a negative feeling. Marketing experts will tell you that ONE NEGATIVE can spoil so much of the good that has come before; they go on to explain that, on the average, you need TEN positive impressions to erase that one bad one.
I read a newspaper article the other day where a volunteer fire fighter was arrested on SUSPICION of theft in his department. Every so often we hear of such accusations... please bear in mind that many of these accusations never reach indictment much less conviction. (Yes, sadly there are some that do).
Of course the townspeople start wondering how "honest" all of the members of their first response agencies are; they ask pointed questions about previous fund drives; they wonder how safe it is for a volunteer first responder to enter their homes. And no matter the result of the investigation, the next needed fund drive is severely depleted.
Understand that First Responders are usually the FIRST people to show up and give needed aid when someone dials 911. Also understand that there are many, many First Response agencies that are VOLUNTEER organizations and this means that the people who run to your aid, giving up their own family life and sleep, and often putting themselves at risk, are not doing this for pay or other benefits — most of them are good hearted people concerned about their neighbors.
According to a February 2020 report there are approximately 750,000 VOLUNTEER Fire Fighters, some of whom are also EMTs and Paramedics. New York State alone has more than 65,000 EMS providers consisting of many volunteer and paid personnel. The training to become an EMT, or any of the other steps in EMS ARE THE SAME whether the individual is a volunteer or paid service member. Obviously the numbers are astronomical and the FEW cases of accused wrongdoing are a mere percentage of all the honest people out there.
Definitely someone who is found guilty of criminal misdoing needs to be brought to task. But please do not judge a whole department based on what may be an unproven act — let the authorities investigate properly and take whatever necessary actions are appropriate. But PLEASE do not condemn a whole agency or field because of that "one bad apple". Your First Response agencies, especially the volunteers, need your support so that they can be there when you need them.
You can help all of the volunteer emergency service agencies by volunteering and making donations for their vital operations.
So much to say and so little room to write - Grew up in the Bronx, NYC and went to school at JHS80, HS of Art & Design, and Fordham U. Lincoln Ctr campus. I always had an overactive imagination and parents who encouraged creativity and individuality. I am married to a terrific guy and we raised two extraordinary kids. My sister and I are real close. And I've always tried to give back to my community.
Oh, by the way, I like to write.