"The Hunting Story"
Human Equality

After World War II America was the undisputed champion of the world. For a while everyone loved us, even our former enemies. But soon people began to resent us due to our superior attitudes. We Americans thought that was unjustified and ungrateful. In one particular country, the unrest was beginning to have strategic implications during that delicate time of detente. Dr. Humphrey's job was to find out what the problem was and solve it.

The basic problem was that the Americans working in that poor ally country thought that the local people were smelly, ignorant, violent, dishonest and lazy and let them know it. No matter what he did, Dr. Humphrey couldn't stop the negative talk; partially because some of it was true!  As a result, though, the local people wanted the Americans to go home.

One day, as a diversion, Humphrey decided to go hunting for wild boar with some people from the American embassy. They took a truck from the motor pool and headed out to the boondocks, stopping at a village to hire some local men to beat the brush and act as guides.

This village was very poor. The huts were made of mud and there was no electricity or running water. The streets were unpaved dirt and the whole village smelled. Flies abounded. The men looked surly and wore dirty clothes. The women covered their faces, and the children had runny noses and were dressed in rags.

It wasn't long before one American in the truck said, "This place stinks." Another said, "These people live just like animals." A third said, "They just don't value life the same as we do." Finally, a young air force man said, "Yeah, they got nothin' to live for; they may as well be dead."

What could you say? It seemed true enough.

But just then, an old sergeant in the truck spoke up. He was the quiet type who never said much. In fact, except for his uniform, he kind of reminded you of one of the tough men in the village. He looked at the young airman and said, "You think they got nothin' to live for, do you? Well, if you are so sure, why don't you just take my knife, jump down off the back of this truck, and go try to kill one of them?"

There was dead silence in the truck. 

Humphrey was amazed. It was the first time that anyone had said anything that had actually silenced the negative talk about these local people. The sergeant went on to say, "I don't know either why they value their lives so much. Maybe it's those snotty nosed kids, or the women in the pantaloons. But whatever it is, they care about their lives and the lives of their loved ones, same as we Americans do. And if we don't stop talking bad about them, they will kick us out of this country!"

Humphrey asked him what we Americans, with all our wealth, could do to prove our belief in the peasants' equality despite their destitution? The Tennessee sergeant answered easily, "You got to be able to look them in the face and let them know, just with your eyes, that you know they are men who hurt like we do, and hope like we do, and want for their kids just like we all do. It is that way or we lose."

Adapted from "Values For A New Millennium"
by Robert L. Humphrey


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