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Monday, July 15, 2013

A Parable of Progress


There was a man who had a wife – a wife he purchased from a neighboring village (this was back when such things were still done, mind you…) And he treated her very poorly.   He made her work from before sunrise to well after sunset.  She sewed for him and cooked for him.  She carried water from the well and she split wood for the fire.  She milked the cows and raised the chickens.  She kept his garden and took the produce to the market for him.   But he never allowed her to use any of the money for herself.   She dressed in castoffs and second hand rags, while he wore fine silks and linens.  She ate gruel once a day while he ate fine meats and dandies, three square meals every day.  She slept on a straw pallet while he rested on a comfortable down filled mattress.  And, what is more, he beat her. Severely.  And when she bore his children he made them serve just as their mother and he beat them as well.  Mercilessly.

After many years the other citizens of the town began to complain of the way the man treated his wife and children.  They said, “He is cruel.” They said, “She should take the children and leave him.”  Some said, “They should kill him.”

The man, hearing these complaints, begrudgingly allowed that, perhaps, maybe, he’d been a little unfair and vowed to change his ways. The woman was now allowed to use some of the family’s money for better food and clothing for herself and for the children, but the man still kept most of it for himself and his own comfort.  And he did, truth be told, beat her and the children less often. But they were still hungry and ill-dressed, and still abused.

And the woman and her children cried out in their despair. 

The husband took offense at their complaints, “How dare you complain.  These issues were addressed long ago.  Hasn’t there been substantial progress here?   Aren’t things better than they were before?  Will you never be satisfied? “





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