I walked into the little Panamanian drug store feeling sorry for myself because I had a nasty cold. Two minutes later I walked out feeling humbled … and desolate.
Inside there was a mom and her young teenage daughter consulting with the female pharmacist. My arrival instantly turned the scene tense. I could sense it – but not understand it. Then I realized that the druggist was showing them how to use a pregnancy testing kit.
Suddenly, the insignificance of my runny nose in comparison with their actual life-changing trauma, just hammered my heart. I left swiftly – without buying any medicine.
I swear, if a bishop had been walking past, I would have grabbed him by his authoritarian collar and shoved him into the farmacia and said,
“Look at the agony on the faces of this mother and child. Your church did this to them. Your perverse desire to control even the most intimate details of a person’s conduct has cast them into a pit of worry and despair. By forbidding her from using a birth control method that actually works, you are forcing this teenager to make a decision of lifelong importance - even though she is a half a decade from adulthood.”
“And if she does discover that she is pregnant, another one of your heartless edicts will force her to have a child that she does not want. And this will shut down all of the other paths that her life might have taken had she been able to remain in school and learn of the many magical options and possibilities that the wide world offers.”
“So tell me, O holy bishop, for what vile sin is your church sentencing this terrified teenager to a lifetime of toil and subsistence drudgery? Oh, yes, it is because she could not resist the pleasurable urges that Nature has woven into all young humans of her age. God forbid that someone might savor one of life’s sublime ecstasies without suffering guilt or other dire penalties.”
Unfortunately, no bishop appeared to allow me to vent. So I walked through the tropical heat - stewing in silent rage. I bought a bottle of water at a little restaurante across from the town park. I love idling away in this shady spot and watching the unpretentious passing parade.
As I was finally starting to chill out a bit, I involuntarily witnessed another disturbing human vignette. A tiny Indio girl came into the café. For years she had been helping her mom sell limes and yucca from one of the park benches across the street. When she needed to use the bathroom she picked up the key from the counter. She had always done this for free, but a new employee, who did not recognize her, took the key away from her and barked, “50 centavos.”
The lovely little girl was startled by this unusual request and just stood there confused and speechless. When the waitress repeated her demand for 50 centavos, I rose from my chair and walked over to the counter. It took every fiber of my self-control to calmly say to the girl behind the counter, “Here’s 50 centavos for the little girl - and you need to talk to the owner about this. He is a longtime friend of mine.” Since I probably looked like a human volcano about to erupt, she handed the girl the key and a few minutes later I saw her talking to her manager.
After a few minutes my irritation started to ease and I realized that the waitress was not to blame for this sad and poignant little scene. But somebody definitely should be held accountable! And that’s because it is preposterous and obscene that there is no public restroom in the central park of a town in Panama, which has one of the biggest income streams on the entire planet.
A typical container ship traveling through the Panama Canal will pay over $200,000 for the 48 mile trip that takes less than a day. And over 50 vessels transit through each day. For 10% of the fee from one ship, they could build a palatial bathroom building in this little park.
Why do governments fail to attend to the most basic and obvious needs of their people? Since citizens all over the world are taxed and regulated and even involuntarily conscripted into the military, shouldn’t they at least receive vital basic services in return?
Just as these acidic thoughts were discoloring my mood even further, I noticed some people at a nearby table who were engaged in a heated argument about the upcoming U.S. elections. But when I tuned into their conversation, I realized that it was just the same old Blue Team/Red Team antagonism.
I sighed in disbelief that with all of the perceptive commentary that is available in the alternative media today, this couple was still locked into the old Democrats versus Republicans mindset. How could they miss the deeper truth that the entire political process is so profoundly corrupted and metastasized that governments don’t serve The People – they serve The Rich People? How could they believe that their puppet was better than the opposing puppet? How could they not understand that the Malignant Overlords are rejoicing behind the curtain as they witness this divide and conquer strategy continue to succeed?
Witnessing the sad episodes of the possibly pregnant young teen and of the confused and startled little Indio girl had emotionally staggered me. All of this had occurred within a half an hour. And then to follow that by overhearing an insipid argument over whose political marionette was best just finished me off. I took the rest of my water and headed for the waterfront. Sitting on my favorite seawall with my toes in the water, might comfort me.
I was pleased to see that one of the semester-at-sea tall ships, that regularly visit the Archipelago of Bliss, had just dropped anchor. I sent them a little welcoming bouquet of hopes as I watched them prepare their skiffs for a trip to town.
I hoped that the school-masters that they had on board were bold and inspirational. I hoped that they were questioning conformity and authority - and encouraging free inquiry and critical thinking. I hoped that they were alerting their sailor/students to the fact that although the supposedly great institutions that dominate our world claim to be benevolent - they are largely malevolent.
That old ship full of young life and new dreams renewed my battered spirit. I headed back towards AVENTURA, where maybe I could do a little teaching of my own. Perhaps, with my pen and paper and clipboard, I could convert the sadness that had bludgeoned me on a sunny day in Panama into a lesson for the wider world.