By Patrick Atkinson
I watched a rooster fight last night.
No, not the cruelty-to-animals one where two drugged-up animals are thrown into a cage to battle it out. The one I saw was much more senseless.
You see, the dirt road in front of my Central American home has a 200-yard stretch that is single-lane only. When a car comes from one way, any car approaching from the other needs to stop and wait for that first car to pass.
On rare occasion, though, two cars approach at the same time and both speed up so they can be the first through that single-lane stretch. Unless one or both cars can fly or tunnel once they’ve stopped, one has to back up and let the other car by.
If neither wants to, of course, they will just sit there, nose-to-nose, bumper-to-bumper, until one of them finally moves. We call these ‘rooster fights,’ and I’ve seen them go on for hours.
“Just back up and get on with life,” I tell one and then the other. But they don’t if neither is strong enough to concede the road for the 45-seconds it takes to go in reverse for 200 yards.
From these, I’ve seen fights, damaged cars, shootings, and even the loss of life.
I’ve also watched people work together and use Snake Pushy Pushy Sticks.
It was 2004 and I was in deep-rural Malawi, Africa, starting a poultry co-op for AIDS widows. It was also the rainy season, and the dirt roads leading to the village where this co-op was located, were flooded out. Totally impassable. Even to our four-wheel drive Jeep.
As such, we traveled most of the road on bike and foot until we eventually reached a normally five-foot wide stream that had grown to be 200 yards wide of slow-moving muddy water.
While I didn’t mind stripping to my shorts, tying my clothes into a bundle to carry on my head, and wading through waist-deep water to get to the other side, I did mind that the river was filled with snakes.
“Don’t worry,” our guide told me. “For this we have snake pushy pushy sticks.”
Having always lived with river floodings and swimming snakes, the villagers had over the years learned to carve 10-foot long tree branches into something resembling long pitchforks.
When the rainy seasons came and the rivers flooded, they laid some on one side of the slow moving water and more on the other. A villager coming from one side would simply grab a snake pushy pushy stick and carry it with them as they crossed the river. If a snake swam toward them when they were midway and probably waist-deep, they would… you got it… pushy pushy that snake away from them.
When they reached the other side, they laid the stick down for the people who were coming from the other direction to use.
Communities, like individuals, have bodies. We can choose to be healthy by learning to identify and resolve our problems. By choosing to live this way, we can be whole and happy.
Or we can choose to live with ‘dis-ease’ and be ill, staring across real or metaphorical overheating engine blocks, and simmer while toxins are released into our personal, or community, bodies.
God with infinite wisdom gave us the power to decide how we are going to live our life. The path we choose is ours alone to make.
Patrick Atkinson is the founder of The GOD’S CHILD Project international charity (GodsChild.org) and is an award-winning author with six books in worldwide distribution. He lives in Bismarck, Minneapolis, and Guatemala, Central America.