So how do we teach equality and what, exactly does it mean? Man has been trying to appeal to Natural Law for thousands of years without success.
Setting the Stage
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.” 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. He says that his mouth dropped open and he thought to himself, “Good God, he is talking about the equality of life and all of these rich Americans are buying it.” This was what he had be looking for!
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, even with all our money. In fact, both in combat and in freezing prison camps, they hung in there after a lot of Americans was yelling quit.”
Humphrey forgot about hunting that day and followed that Sergeant, asking his two questions. Perhaps Humphrey says it best on page 49 of Values for a New Millenium:
“He told (or lectured) me that while we were looking down on those peasants and insulting them, it really embarrassed him because even though the villagers didn’t speak any English, htey understood exactly what we were saying. They could tell from our tone, and had given him almost exact translations on previous occasions when he had stayed with them overnight.”
He added, “You know, when we are making fun of them, they are looking back up at us there on that truck an dsaying, ‘Laugh, you bas***ds in your fancy clothes, but we don’t care how sweet you smell, or how rich you are, or where you come from. We value our lives and the lives of our loved ones just as much as you do yours. And if you don’t give us that, you have got to go.‘”
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 jump off the back of this truck in your fancy boots, walk through the sheep manure to the dirtiest, smelliest guy in town, look him in the face and let him know, just with your eyes, that you know he’s a man who hurts like we do, and hopes like we do, and wants for his kids just like we all do. It is that way or we lose.”
Dr. Humphrey convinced his translator to help him interview some of the locals. The more they level with him, the more he understood that this equality-of-life concept was their meaning. What they all said independently was, “We are the friendly people in the world; but no one can tread on us.”
It was from this experience that Dr. Humphrey developed what he called the “Dual-Life Value” or “Balanced-Live Value” and from which the Life Values System is derived.