In my travels as an over the road trucker I have the opportunity to utilize restrooms in whatever place I happen to be when the need arises. If it happens to have reading material someone left behind, so much the better. Nothing quite as rejuvenating as a stop in the library, I always say. Anyway, while whiling away a few minutes in the library of a truckstop, I perused an abandoned copy of the Washington Post. The front page article in the section concerned the surging price of food, especially in the Third World.
The story relayed the terrible circumstances of a man who resides in some African nation along with his wife and numerous children. The price of food had risen for them, as it has everywhere on this globe. The place they had come to was making the decision to kill the family's single she-goat to sell so they could buy some food. The goat had provided milk for the children so they could at least start their day with something nutritious in their belly. Of course, killing and selling their goat would be the end of their daily milk intake. When the food that the goat money would bring was gone there were no more options. No more goats to sell, or anything else of any value. The father was confronted with the stark reality of simply watching his children starve, along with his wife and himself.
Later the same day while listening to the radio I heard an advertisement for a reality show (which, as far as I can tell, usually bears little or no resemblance to any reality I exist in). The premise of this show is a number of urban pampered princesses who are ostensibly auditioning to become the spouse of Farmer Ted. The quote from one of the princesses in the ad was "THIS son of a bitch wants us to milk a GOAT!"
My mind did an overlay of these two circumstances. I remember an old high school biology book in which the various body systems were graphically printed on clear plastic stock so that you could assemble the body one page at a time. First there is the skeleton, next the internal organs, then the circulatory system, the musculature, and finally the skin and hair. My mind did an overlay of desperate goat seller and pampered no-goat-milking bitch and I've come to the following conclusion. We're all going to Hell.
I'm not an apologist for the wealth and ease enjoyed by so many in the USA. In my opinion the wealth we've accumulated has been by the work and wits of ourselves and that of previous generations. If we secure resources from other nations we pay for them. If that money doesn't find its way to the general population, it isn't our fault but that of the recipient of the payment. In many nations the leaders, dictators, whatever title you wish to call them, fatten their own Swiss bank accounts while their people starve. The problem isn't that the US steals their resources but that the rulers steal the payments for those resources. My take on all this is that man seems to so often find a way to oppress their fellow man for no better reason than that they can.
I was saddened by the stark dichotomy between the princess who thinks herself too good to sully her little soft hands by milking a goat and a family who desperately wish they had a goat to milk and would praise God for the chance to simply have one.
We have so much in this country that we don't even realize how MUCH we do have. We also seem to appreciate what we have so little. Both scenes I've detailed above are incredibly sad, even though for entirely different reasons.
I find myself wishing there were some way I could buy a goat and give it to the family in Africa. I'm not a financially well-off person, but I surely have the wherewithal to buy one freakin' goat. If I could, I'd do it and be glad for the chance.
What does this desire make me? I don't know. This isn't an effort to display what a great guy I am for wanting to give someone else a goat. I think my visceral reaction is simply a reasonable one when confronted with two dissimilar horrors. I do however know this- I won't be watching that reality show.