Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life of Hardin Vol. IV, No. 22

The Better Part of Valor

Mark Twain said that the human race is a race of cowards. I feel confident that he never visited Paraguay. Had he done so he would have excluded the Paraguayan from his sentiment.

Like any human being, a Paraguayan has a number of character flaws. Lack of courage is not among them. This is historically demonstrated in the statistics from the War of the Triple Alliance (1866-1870). In this war Paraguay fought against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay at the same time. Three-forths of all Paraguayan men died in the war because they were too courageous to stop. A monument to their courage now stands at the gateway to the capital city: a Paraguayan soldier sprawls dead at the feet of a Paraguayan woman and a Paraguayan boy with rifle in hand. The engraving declares, “We will fight on.”

We need look no further for the continuing evidence of this courage than the Paraguayan pedestrian. He takes his life in his hands every day without the slightest twinge of cowardice. When I cross the street here, I wait for the change of lights and then scamper toward the other side like a Southern squirrel. It takes a good five minutes for my heat palpitations to stop.

A Paraguayan pedestrian has no such trouble because his heart knows no fear. He strolls across the street like the Pink Panther. He does this with the light or against the light. It makes no difference to him. The metal behemoths that bear down on him might as well be a flock of butterflies. The Paraguayan is confident that the cars that hurtle toward him will either stop or simply break down before they can do him any harm. He never speeds his gate, never breaks into a desperate run for the safety of the sidewalk. In fact, he rarely looks to see if cars are coming or not, but walks headlong across a lane and thereby proves his worth. The only notice a Paraguayan can give to an oncoming car is one tiny disdainful glance over his shoulder once he is halfway across the street. Any more than this and he will be branded a coward and blackballed.

This same courage is displayed by the street corner vendors. They dance in and out of traffic with their baskets of fruit, often standing between two lanes as cars roar away from a stop light. Even as the vendors sit on the curb they display their courage by hanging their bare legs a good three feet into the nearest lane while they face the opposite direction. Cars swerve around them. And if their legs ever twitch, their vending license is revoked and they live forever in shame.

This is no false bravado that wilts in the face of real danger. I have put it to the test. When a Paraguayan crosses in front of me at his leisurely gate, I often rev my engine, blare my horn, and aim as close to him as I can to test his mettle. Never once have I been rewarded with even a surprised glance. But I am certain I have aided many a young man to prove his mettle in front of his peers.

I feel no shame in saying I do not have the courage of a Paraguayan pedestrian. No one can have that kind of valor and live long. Alas, he has no discretion, and I have it in spades. He is a glorious creature, but I will be here long after he has vanished from the earth.


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