About a year ago when I started traveling my first stop was at a place, which had a large volunteer community of backpackers working on a farm run by Hare Krishnas. I was not sure what to expect, but I knew it would be an interesting cultural experience, and that is why I wanted to go. When we first got there with my friend Danielle we were greeted by a shy Swedish girl named, Elin. Elin was not yet a Krishna “devotee” but was well on the path to becoming one. She picked us up in her station wagon from the local town bus stop, and when we drove into the Krishna Village (which was like driving into a scene from the movie The Beach) there were smiley backpackers and beautiful Brahman cows there to greet us. The cows were grazing all over the place, while the smiling backpackers were working on different projects and spoke with every accent imaginable. As we were driving into this new world for the first time, Elin told us a wonderful story about a little cow with big dreams, a story I will never forget.
On the Krishna farm the cows were grazing happily, and across the road there were other cows also grazing happily. However, the cows across the road while grazing on beautiful green grass with glorious Australian mountains as their backdrop, were not as lucky or peaceful as would first seem. These poor dears would eventually be sent to the slaughterhouse, while the Krishna cows would live happy long peaceful lives and die of old age. However, some of these unfortunate cows across the road somehow knew their fate and would occasionally manage to escape their barbed wire fence, cross the country road, and try to assimilate into the Krishna cow community, hoping to go by unnoticed and fit in with the other cows.
In this case the expression “the grass is always greener” actually runs true. These refugee cows, despite all their efforts, when found would have to be sent back to their owners (and their own patches of green) with much sadness. One cow however, we’ll call him Charlie, escaped that many times, and was returned that many times, that in the end the Krishna community asked the farmer who owned him if they could purchase him. To this day, Charlie’s efforts and persistence have paid off for him. He now lives a happy and peaceful life on the right side of the road, grazing on beautiful green grass all day, chewing away side by side with his newfound family, hearing Hare Krishna melodies from afar and receiving pats and treats from passing backpackers. So I wonder, how does this cow refugee story relate to the current refugee crisis, and what can we learn from it? When everyday people (or cows) are desperate, they must do whatever it takes to save their lives. They have just as much a right to live long happy peaceful lives as everyone else, and that is why they are so persistent in their pursuit, as would any of us be. However, as with the cows who arrive at the Krishna farm, and as with the age old saying When in Rome, this story also reminds me of how important it is, not only when immigrating , but also when traveling to new places, to assimilate and become a part of the new “cow patch” you have adopted as your new home.
Written for thereadersbureau.com