Potatoes

It is hard to believe now, but many once shunned potatoes. When first introduced into England by Sir Walter Raleigh, newspapers printed editorials against it, clerics preached sermons against it, and the general public would not touch it. It was supposed to sterilize the soil in which it had been planted and cause all manner of strange illnesses, even death. It was years before all the adverse publicity was overcome and the potato became popular.

Here are two stories about potatoes… All the farmers knew that the cooperative paid top dollars if they brought the potatoes already sorted – small, medium, large. And so they took great pains to categorize them before delivering. However they noticed that this farmer always took the potatoes right out of the ground and hauled them directly to town. He did not sort them and yet he got maximum dollars. ??

When they complained with the manager, his answer surprised them: “No, friends, you are wrong. He always has his potatoes sorted out.” “But when does he do it?” they asked. “Well, he has a very simple trick… While you all take the good nice road to town, he always takes the road with all the holes and bumps! Big potatoes always rise to the top on a rough road.”?? I suppose in life it is the same. Going through bumps in life can sort us out!

Here is another potato story. All of us have problems in relationships. We like some people and we dislike others. Some we dislike a little, some we dislike a lot. Knowing that this can poison interactions in life, this teacher wanted to teach an object lesson to her kindergarten students. She asked each child of the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few potatoes. Then she asked them to write the name of the person they detest on each potato. So the number of potatoes that a child will put in his plastic bag depended on the number of people he dislikes. Some had two potatoes, some three while some up to five potatoes.

The ‘game’ was very simple. The kids were asked to carry the potatoes in the plastic bag wherever they went. And this for one whole week. No problem for the first couple of days, except that the one who had five potatoes was plodding along a heavier weight. However after the first days, the potatoes started rotting, sending a very unpleasant smell. The stench became unbearable, and so all the children were relieved when the ‘game’ finally ended.

Now came the application! The teacher asked: “How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for one week?” The children let out their frustrations and started complaining of the trouble they had to go through, having to carry the heavy and smelly potatoes wherever they went.

The teacher explained. “This is exactly your condition when you carry a loathing for someone inside your heart. It is a terrible burden and besides, the stench of such animosity will contaminate you and this carries through your whole day wherever you go.”

“I’ve learned that when you have an argument with your spouse, the first one who says, ‘I’m sorry I hurt your feelings; please forgive me,’ is the winner.” A smack of practicality, no?


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.