Because the locals here take lots of time to look and listen to the world around them, they are naturally religious. They wouldn’t think of denying the existence of a heavenly Father, nor would they think of taking his manifest gifts for granted. They thank God in childlike praise within their many houses of worship. Like the island breezes that blow through my open windows all day, like the many-colored birds that chorus riotously in the early morning, their simple faith daily refreshes the soul.
Don’t get me wrong: some of my best friends are dogs. But dogs are not that smart, and they need help to focus their lives beyond fighting all night and sleeping all day. I remember working one summer in a packing plant. All but one of my eight-man crew were high school dropouts, and one day “Skinny,” one of the dropouts, summed up his life as the “three F’s”—feasting, fighting, and one other F that I won’t mention. Some of these men I considered friends, at least for a summer, but I wondered why they didn’t expect more from life than a kind of doggy existence, such as I see in the down-to-earth locals here in Papua New Guinea. I hope they eventually got married and got beyond the self-absorbed level.
But not likely, because marriage and family are disparaged these days. The one hope for us mangy mutts to elevate ourselves to has been pooh-pooed by society. O how I miss the days when marriage and family life were prized! It hardly exists in my urban parish. As sophisticated as we appear, our lives are not much more than the “three F’s,” for without marriage and family we are just dogs in paradise.