Monday, May 17, 2010

Mao & the sparrows

Earlier this month (the first actually) it was May Day - one of those holidays very big with more than 20% of the world's population & as good as unheard of in the US.  May Day has a long pre-christian history but for whatever reason, none of the big mono-theistic religions picked it up & made it their own.  That was left to to no-theist religion:  communism.

There is a lot of talk about communism these days & even more about baby communism, also called socialism.  To hear some people tell it nothing good can come from people banding together to help the weaker, less fortunate members of our society.  The most entertaining bit about these speeches is how many of these people identify themselves as christians.  Go figure.

Back to May Day.  Ancient rites & feasts aside, today it is most celebrated as International Workers Day & the two big places it is celebrated are the former USSR countries (almost all of them still call this a major national holiday) & China.  I think it is interesting how many of these countries, having returned to their former states of chaos with varying success still celebrate a day that looks, from the outside, like a symbol of their oppression.  Before I get too mocking though I remind myself that celebrating the birth of George Washington with temporarily reduced price bed linens probably looks odd from the other side of the world.

More interesting to me than not-USSR though, is China.  First, I know a lot more Chinese people than I do no-longer-USSR people, despite having married into a family of them.    Chances are good this is true of many other readers of this blog & the reason is a solid one:  population is decreasing in almost every no-longer-USSR country.

Also there is something about Chinese style communism that has just the faintest whiff of one of my favorite sideways-religions: cargo cultism.  Let me tell you the story that really brought this one home for me.  Once upon a time, China had a powerful, all knowing leader.  Let's call him Mao.  This leader looked out over his land & then he looked at other stronger lands & he made an observation.  These other stronger lands exported more grain than they imported.  This, he said, is what it is to be a great land.  & so Mao decided that his land was going to do the same.

So Mao toured the graineries, barns & fields of his land & he made a horrifying observation.  The sparrows were stealing the grain!  He knew right then that his country would never be great until the sparrows were eliminated. Mao directed his people to drive them off the fields using pots & pans to make noise if that was all they could do.  & it worked!  Sparrows flew until they dropped dead from exhaustion.  Everything about this was wonderful, of course, until the people realized that in addition to the grain, the sparrows were also eating locusts.  Unchecked locusts did a helluvalot more damage than the sparrows ever did & people starved.  But Mao exported most of the grain & this was what it was to be a great nation. 

Back to the present where things are much more useless:  the rest of Fladidah has been spending a lot of time spill watching.  Not so here in our little world.  The redneck brain-trust I have written about before has purchased a small cannon which he fires from dawn til dusk to keep those damn birds off his blueberries (I could be wrong, but it entirely possible someone in the neighborhood turned him in for shooting at the endangered cedar wax wings).  If only the rest of the farms would follow his example & we could recreate one of the great moments in Chinese history, right here, for everyone experience.

1 comment:

  1. Good one. I'm never sure where you are going in your posts, but I'm never disappointed when you get there.