There is a story from the days of the Mexican revolutions that seems relevant to current events. It seems that the more things change; the more they stay the same.

After liberating a town from the troops of the current dictator, the soldiers of General "Pancho" Villa began to "liberate" the local chickens to feed Villa's revolutionary army. An angry peasant ran to the liberators and began to plead for his chickens.

"These are all I have. Please don't steal my chickens,"

A soldier of the new order replied: "We are not stealing your chickens, old man. If we work for you and work for your good, we must eat. Remember, old man, we are doing this for you. We are here creating something greater than your chickens and your petty needs. We do all of this for YOU."

The old peasant laughed. His face crinkled and momentarily he had a far away look in his eye. Then he looked into the face of the soldier and said: "When I was a young man, French soldiers came to my village and said it was our duty to give up our chickens for the greater good: to support the government of Maximillian. I became angry at having my chickens stolen; so, I joined the revolution and fought against the tyranny that would steal a poor man's chickens."

"When we had won, resources were redistributed so that no one would ever be poor again. And, what was left of my chickens went to peasants who had no chickens. Now, the revolution was a success, but I had no chickens."

"Then we discovered that the new government was stealing from the people. Peasants were losing their land. So, there was another revolution. First, the rebels came through gathering supplies and took my chickens. Then, the government troops came through the village and burned our homes and took our livestock so that the rebels would not steal from us."

"The rebels won, but I never got my chickens back. I did receive many newspapers that told me how good life was going to be, but no chickens. The newspapers were good to start cook fires, but I had nothing to put in the pot to feed my children. Now, you come and steal my chickens and promise me that my life is going to be better after the revolution."

"All I know is that it does not matter what the cause is. Or, who wins. Someone always steals my chickens. Everyone promises a better life by following the new approach, or by returning to a tradition. But, in the end, everyone eats my chickens ... but me."

This is an old story and has been repeated many times in many circumstances. As we all watch in amazement as the events in Shaolin unfold, is it possible that it is just another
example of self-serving interest abusing the rights of the people who were to be served?

Robert F. Sawicki, PhD

Las Vegas, NV

August, 2000