Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I've seen this in email a couple times, but couldn't find the text with a quick Google. This is how I remember it:

A rich man wanted his son to understand and appreciate the wealth he had, so he sent his son to spend the summer with his poor relatives in the country. His son returned at summer’s end, looking tan and fit.

“So,” said his father, “do you now understand how it is to be poor?”

“Yes father,” said the boy. “I only see you a few times a month; my cousins see their father every day. I looked out their back door and saw gardens, woods, a lake, and mountains in the distance, instead of our walls and fences so close by. At night, we gathered around a bonfire and watched a sky full of stars, not hidden by the security lights I see here. We swam in a lake that is bigger than these grounds, let alone our pool. We played in woods that went on without end. We ate food we grew ourselves, instead of telling the help to go buy it for us.

“Thank you, father, for showing me how poor we really are.”

It might be that those who passed it on were looking at what I call the “cultural superiority” aspect of the story — there’s quite a bit of that in country music these days — but to me, it speaks of how adults and children have different perspectives. An adult might crave wealth, then hide behind walls to keep it in and spend all his time gaining more wealth. But to a child, such a life is little more than a clean “nice” prison. Kids like to be outside, girls as well as boys. I remember The Boy as a toddler, having the time of his life rolling in the mud with an overgrown Springer Spaniel who adored him. And then there’s the whole hands-on perspective — like when I try to help Mason with something and he says, “I do it, I do it!”

When is it that getting dirty, doing stuff with our own hands, and spending hours on end outside becomes abhorrent? I know that, for some, that day never comes. Are they really worse off?

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