Sunday Morning ~ Justice
Cikuni ca utsi koma kufumula ~ The firewood that smokes too much must be removed.
~ Chewa proverb
March 31, 2019
I was looking for proverbs having to do with justice and this one caught my attention. I like it because it’s message relates to actively doing something to change the course of the situation. Many Malawians cook inside over an open fire. If a piece of firewood is not burning but smoking, it doesn’t help anything. It won’t cook the food and it will burn the eyes of the children. It will cause asthma and breathing problems in everyone around. The piece that won’t burn has to be removed. The piece that isn’t burning, only smoking and hurting everyone, must be plucked from the flames and thrown outside. Maybe it will be used to make a fence for the garden or to build the outhouse, but when it’s not doing the job intended, out it goes, before anyone suffers more than necessary. The early symptoms identify the problem and before more harm comes, the faulty firewood is removed. That’s justice.
When the firewood is stacked in a bundle outside the kitchen door, it may look like the other pieces. It wouldn’t be easy to recognize it as the one that won’t burn properly. It is placed in a teepee formation along with the others. But it doesn’t take long for a woman cooking to see what isn’t working. She must be efficient with the firewood as the supply is dwindling rapidly. Her family’s life depends on it. No fire, no food. No food, no energy. No energy, no crop. No crop, and everyone dies from famine.
It’s not difficult to recognize a smoking piece of firewood. It’s clearly only causing discomfort and harm and not providing anything for it. Neither heat nor flame earn it the right to stay where it is. I imagine how a Malawian would tolerate anyone watching this and not doing something about it. They would consider them crazy, to endanger the entire village by hurting the health of the family.
This notion swirls around my mind wondering where justice lies and how many races have waited for how many centuries to find it? What it will take before we, the privileged, see en mass what damage the smoking piece of firewood is causing and how we could stop choking if we removed it? I feel like we’re in an episode of The Empire Strikes Back. I know there is a sequel coming but not sure which will sell the most tickets. I believe in justice and fellow humanity leaning that way, but this week it’s a chore to remind myself of that. I repeat these phrases: What goes around comes around, Karma’s a bitch, The bigger they are the harder they fall…all a lenten prayer that I live to see justice here. We’ve got the power to remove the useless piece of firewood, but a whole year and a half of breathing in toxic smoke is dangerous.
Love to all,