Last night I finished reading Gulliver’s Travels. I’m ashamed to admit that I never read it in its entirety before–just excerpts in high school. And about a week ago I was in need of some “comfort reading” and turned to my recently unpacked shelf of the children’s classic illustrated library, and there was gulliver looking me straight in the eye. I thought, “what the heck.”
It’s a great read, although by the end of the second part, I was having trouble figuring out the scale of things. Then I got to the third part, where Gulliver ends up on the island of the Houyhnhnms. (can someone please tell me how I’m supposed to pronounce this?) At the end, when Gulliver was sent away and had to return to living among humans, who he now identified as yahoos, I was a little perturbed. I mean, come on Gulliver, ease up on your poor wife and kids. Its not their fault they weren’t born horses! And it seemed like he was kind of overreacting a little–after 5 years among the Houynhnms, he simply couldn’t abide any human contact? I understand that the yahoos were crass, dirty, uneducated animals, but they weren’t really the same species that poor Mrs. Gulliver was. I wanted Gulliver to grow up and suck it up.
Then I listened to the news this morning.
And heard the terrible story of a college girl in Boston who was killed after the playoffs game when police were forced to shoot rubber bullets into a rioting crowd. No word on whether this girl was actually rioting; it sounded more like she was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. And when some people in this crowd thought the only way they could celebrate the Red Sox victory was to light cars on fire, the police had to take dramatic, and in this case, deadly action.
Then I realized I could understood how Gulliver felt. How can these people be of the same race as the human beings I live among? What on earth possesses humans to take to the streets after something as (sorry sports fans) meaningless as a sporting event to destroy property and endanger lives? HOW CAN ANYONE THINK THIS IS RIGHT?
I know there are people out there for whom sports are important. I happen to be married to one of them. But when the Packers lose a football game, he’s sort of bummed for a couple of hours. He doesn’t think it necessary to punch holes in our walls or inflict bodily injury on anyone.
So, I guess the yahoo/human dichotomy really does exist. I hate to sound like an elitist, but can we pack all of these yahoos onto a boat and send them to live on their own island?