While doing a bit of Saturday afternoon trail maintenance, I yanked a rusty fence post free of the ground and with it, a nest of yellow jackets. Fun Fact: Yellow jacket stingers are roughly one-third as long as the body of the defensive insect itself.

Twenty-four hours later, the five points on my skin that bore the brunt of those stingers began to itch. Around 10 p.m. that night, after numbing the infernal scratchies with every type of anti-itch medication I could unearth in the bathroom cupboard, plus baking soda, white vinegar and crushed comfrey leaves, sleep seemed a possibility. At 10:15 p.m., some super fun folk in a silver pickup began burning rubber up and down our road.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world and across the equator, fighting in Gaza and southern Israel killed 10 more people, including children. According to the BBC, during the three weeks since air strikes in Gaza began on July 8, almost 1,100 people have been killed on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

We had dinner last week with a group of friends. The Middle East crisis was one topic of conversation at our table. Ten, 20, 50, a thousand years ago, it was likely discussed at other, similar gatherings. For as far back as I can remember, there have been Middle East peace talks. As a child, I was more familiar with the peace talks at Camp David than the recreational activities at Ohio summer camps.

One dinner acquaintance asked the group at large, “They’re always fighting in the Middle East. It’s an age-old controversy that we’re never going to fix. Why are we spending money on this?”

When a sweaty, sweary, red-faced me limped in the house on Saturday with two swollen elbows and a calf-muscle on fire, my Steven sympathized, reckoning that I must have high-tailed it away from that angry swarm. I hadn’t, actually; in addition to the fence post, I had a grip on a coil of barbed wire and I wanted it out of the way of any future hikers. Luckily, I don’t have an allergy to bee stings.

In the simplest of terms, I figure the time spent by leaders of the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Britain, and diplomats from other lands, past and future, is time well spent. They get stung, we get stung, sometimes critically, but some measure of humanity is gained in the effort.

As far as peeling time off a 50,000 mile tire warranty to leave permanent burn marks and an acrid odor on a country road on a Sunday night, maybe it’s due to a girl/boy/drinking problem. That one’s a puzzler.