"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Monday, 7 March 2016

I am a wealthy Man

An interesting conversation the other day.
I was talking with an acquaintance from Africa*. He is a tall strong man with a mouth full of good teeth and a wide smile. He laughs readily and fills the room with joy when he does. I am also informed by the girls that he is very good looking!
Anyway, we were talking about our relative histories. He came from what we would call a background of poverty and war although he recalled fond memories and claimed he had a good childhood of love and family. His people never went too hungry and he considered his family to be reasonably well off. They had a small amount of land and a house. Some livestock and the children were able to obtain a basic education.
Obviously I was compelled to ask him his view of Australia in comparison. He thought Australia was like heaven. He had a positively palatial house in comparison to his home in Africa. No one had ever pointed a gun at him here and he could get a job easily. Best of all he could drink water from a tap in his house. This last comment I found unusual. He explained that to have a tap *in his own house* that gives water that is fresh and good all day long is absolutely unheard of in his country. Of all the things in his day to day life it is access to fresh water he likes the most. The government here even considers it his *right* to have this water! Amazing.

Makes you think doesn't it?

I was more than a little humbled to say the least. My childhood was that of a spoiled prince in comparison despite being firmly middle class Australian. He asked me about my upbringing and I felt more than a little ashamed at my own casual attitude to what I had, until now, taken for granted. However what amazed me the most was his response when I described my farm and lifestyle. His eyes lit up when I said I possessed ten acres of good land, a house (large by his standards) and various livestock but most of all seven cattle! "Oh in my country you would be a very important man!" To say I was amazed by this response would be an understatement. This man is not far from gaining his PHD! He is educated far beyond anything I will ever achieve yet he placed me in a high status because of my farm and cattle. I am truly honoured.
He also asked if I wanted another wife as his eldest daughter would soon need a husband? I gracefully declined. (I almost sure he was joking....)

The most mundane of conversations can change our lives. I will forever be grateful to my friend, he has opened a new window in my life.

* Name and precise location withheld at his request

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