By Barb Hauge
Zen Buddhists believe in reincarnation and that we must be physically born again and again until we get it right or achieve Nirvana which means to rest in heavenly peace.
They also believe that if you despise any group during your life on Earth you will be born again as a member of that group. So, following this logic, white racists are born black, pedophiles become molested children, wife beaters become beaten wives, homophobics are born gay and Hitler is born a Jew.
For many years our farm welcomed foster children, Farmstay students from a program sponsored by Farmers Union, South Americans under Kennedys Alliance for Progress, foreign students and assorted hired men. From all of these we learned there is another side to life.
Sammy was a rich Jewish girl whose parents had a summer home near the Kennedys at Hyannis Port. She said, It would be wonderful to grow up in Montana IF you were a boy. A chubby little red headed artist from New York (who did small intricate paintings like those of Grandma Moses) would spend hours weeding trees in the field shelterbelt. Since the soil was sandy she enjoyed going barefoot while singing operatic arias. Suzie was amazed, You mean I can be out here all alone and Im completely safe! Especially she loved to see all the birds, rabbits, deer, antelope and fox who found sanctuary in our field shelterbelt.
Jean from Minneapolis was independently wealthy and had established a halfway house to help youth recover from drug and alcohol addiction. She was a bit leery of being used as slave labor on a farm, but the fear faded when Jean discovered it was fun to operate farm machinery. Davey and Tony were from New Yorks Harlem. Davey was half black/half Jewish and extremely smart, but raised entirely by women, he was fascinated around men. He hated bathing and my husband finally told him, You cant just wash up and down as far as possible; youve got to wash possible! Tony, a lovable Puerto Rican boy with curly hair, said it was so dangerous where he lived that only his Catholic Saint Christopher Medal kept him alive.
Akira Inouye from Japan eliminated flies from our farrowing barn, filled with sows and baby pigs, by swatting every fly that raised its hairy head. He wanted us to arrange a marriage with our foster daughter, Maria. We explained things were not done that way in America, but when she was old enough he could court her.
When Art and I argued, our Japanese students were very surprised that my husband did not beat me. Hitoshi Tanaka said, In Japan, even the Prime Minister Tanaka beats his wife.
Whether the other side holds great or little promise, we often yearn to change sides.