"Aseadeéföpachacha, unen ache (When the bird is roasted, the hen must be careful)"
George Hegel, the German philosopher, taught the world about the importance of history. To him, history becomes the process through which our spirits or the German rendition “geist” attains actuality. We develop our sense of place and traditions through the facts of history he noted. By a logical extension, we become the authors of our own fate and what happens to us in this world depends on how closely we learn the lessons of history. Our Annang forebears were aware of this reasoning and framed their understanding in today’s saying that when a bird is roasted, the hen must watch in order to learn the lessons of survival and life. The irony lies in the fact that the bird is not part of the usual menu for humans, but the hen is. If what is not a part of the regular dish is roasted, then it follows that the hen must be extra careful not to repeat the path that landed the bird in the fire. We learn the lessons of life, the people agreed, by observing and avoiding the mistakes of others. We live well when we live an observant life.
Throughout human history, the problem has been how to interpret the world and what method creates a better understanding of human experience. The world has seen arguments for reason, pleasure, truth and pragmatism as the basis for understanding the world. Yet our forebears taught each other that we should rely more on experience than on other evidences. Karl Marx once wrote that the philosophers of the past have only interpreted the world but the main point is to change it. Yet it has proven difficult because the world remains a complex place and to rely on just one way of seeing and interpreting it over-simplifies the point. As many people look for work and cannot find it, they wonder how they would feed their families. As others deal with scarcity of food and other resources that make life complete, they wonder why others are living the easy life. The truth is that though the resources may be available, such resources are not evenly distributed. The result is that some have in abundance while others struggle to make ends meet. How then do we live in a world that gives some more than others? How do we see the change that we desire and what can we do as individuals and as a community?
Perhaps we can take a page from history and from those who lived before us. Most major religions of the world strive to impart this message and strive to answer the spiritual questions by relating canonical stories in their holy books. Whether we are Muslims, Hindus, or Christians, the sacred texts are presented as answers to the questions that we struggle with. The canonical stories tell how others lived, and how they dealt with issues of poverty, human weakness, sickness and issues of mortality. They narrate the mistakes they made and the ways of redemption and starting over again. No matter what you may be going through, taking the time to learn about how others lived, whether it is in history or in the scripture can be a very empowering and learning experience. It can show you how others struggle with certain issues and how they overcame it. Above all, it will allow you to know that what you may be going through is not new. It can give you an insight that others had gone through it, overcame it and survived. It can show the mistakes they made and how to avoid those mistakes, for when the bird is roasted the hen must find ways to be careful. May you find peace and friendship in the company of those who love you and may the river of love and mercy, like a balm, quiets your soul.
Adede (Dr.) Ezekiel Ette
For Annang Writers Association (A division of Annang Heritage Preservation Inc.)
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DISCLAIMER: Views expressed here are solely that of the author and do not represent the official position of Annang Heritage Preservation Inc. or any of its affiliate.