America: What Do African Proverbs Tell Us?

On Health Care: Survey after survey shows that the majority of Americans want affordable health care and health care reform with a public option.

Proverb: It is easy to defeat people who do not kindle fire for themselves.

Explanation:  Traditionally, in African society, the elders would sit around the fire and discuss issues of concern to the community in order to maintain stability and unity.  If the fire is not kindled for this purpose, or symbolically if the people do not value and appreciate, the proverb warns that they will easily be defeated in a time of trial.

On the War in Afghanistan:  What many Americans fail to grasp is that the United States has been at war, low intensity-Cuba, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua,  Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan – and the high intensity wars- Vietnam Panama, Iraq, Balkan, Afghanistan-since WWII.  This is not discussed, nor is the consequence of war discussed in the corporate media.

Proverb: I pointed to the stars (the moon) and all you saw was my finger-tip.

Explanation: This  proverb refers to the fact that people can focus on the incorrect or insignificant part of the matter and miss the most important part.

On the economy and what is to be done:  After giving Wall Street untold billions of dollars, Wall Street is rising while Main Street continues to sink, with unemployment rising and foreclosures still a defining feature in the housing market.

Proverb: Hands  wash each other.

Explanation: There is mutual interdependence in the act of hand-washing.  Likewise, people depend on each other.

On the right-wing haters:  Whether call themselves “Teabaggers”; “Beckers”; “rightwing terrorists”; conservatives or Republicans, the anger and venom expressed by these groups at the state of America, is misdirected and often  without foundation.  These groups express their anger at immigrants, people of color and   poor people, and liberals.  There protests are divisive, hateful, and provocative (encouraging violence and intolerance).

Proverb: If one is unhappy, the cause for one’s unhappiness is within oneself.

Explanation: One is often to blame for one’s own unhappiness.  This proverb encourages one to accept responsibility for one’s own challenging circumstances instead of blaming others for them.


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