Posted by: Tony Carson | 1 September, 2007

On sharing life with snakes

Here is a vexing question.

When we read short stories about other countries do they leave us with anything other than transient information, useful for a comment or two and then erased from our memory banks?

Probably not. We only really retain information from an experience or story when we take the time to internalize, relate newly acquired information to our own lifestyle and world view, our own knowledge and experience. That’s the only way we can make information useful to us and therefore lasting.

And comparison is a great way to evaluate our own live. And what did the Greeks say about that? An unexamined life is not worth living.

So I put this thesis to the test while reading this AFP article entitled One snake for two people in Indian village.

Seems Choto Pashla is a village of 6,000 with 3,000 snakes, not your cute little grass-loving garter snake, no, these guys are your sun and water worshipping monocled cobra, six feet long, black with a yellow stripe around its poisonous neck.

No one knows why they have favoured the village but according to lore ever since they arrived after a rain six centuries ago the village has enjoyed prosperous rice crops. So, quite naturally, the reptiles have been the object of worship ever since: they’ve not only been left in peace but protected and fed.

But not without consequences. Snakes bites, as one might expect, are relatively common in Choto Pashla, on land and in water, and poison being what it is the village sacrifices about a dozen people to their goddess snakes every year.

Interesting.

So I did what I set out to do. I stopped, compared the lives of the villagers to my own, thought of my religious beliefs and my love of animals, thought of my philosophy of life — live and let live, and do unto other as … you know, I really thought this thing through.

And then I was really, really glad my mummy had sent me to grade school.

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