What would Mato say? (Originally published on Goodreads.com Mar. 20, 2013)

Manhattan splashI’m finishing up two things just now: 1) my first stab at my federal taxes, and 2) a double Manhattan.

I know I should be concentrating (at least) on item 1, but instead I’m trying to imagine what might be going through the head of Mato, the title character in my Little Primitive books, a guy whose view of the world is filtered through a Stone Age prism.

Now, assuming we could get the idea of currency across to him, how might he react to th????????????????????????????????????????e idea of taxation? Not well, I’m thinking. Not well at all.

“You want to take my wealth? Why? Didn’t I earn it? Did I not build the traps, and clean the pelts, and carry them to the trading post? Did I not take my turn hunting food for the whole clan? Don’t my children deserve the things I can provide for them? Why must I take care of those I do not know, and those who have no knowledge of me, let alone love or interest?”

If Mato existed outside my imagination, he’d have no patience for anything that didn’t put survival first–his own, his family’s, and then his clan’s. Once those were assured he might consider other things. But I suspect he’d never get there. Mato, unlike so many Americans, would be too consumed with his own survival to worry about those too lazy to care for themselves.

Would he care about the sick, the aged, and the infirm? Of course, because he would know instinctively that his time could come, and he might have to survive on the largess of others. But he would expect that any such offerings would be made in repayment of past kindnesses rather than as gifts to someone who’d contributed nothing when he was able.

I suspect that if Mato had been standing at Tom Jefferson’s elbow when the latter was working on the constitution, he would have approved. Whole heartedly.

About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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