In the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific some villagers practice a unique form of logging. If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives cut it down by yelling at it. (Can’t lay my hands on the article, but I swear I read it.) Woodsmen with special powers creep up on a tree just at dawn and suddenly scream at it at the top of their lungs. They continue this for thirty days. The tree dies and falls over. The theory is that the hollering kills the spirit of the tree. According to the villagers, it always works.

Ah, those poor nave innocents. Such quaintly charming habits of the jungle. Screaming at trees, indeed. How primitive. Too bad thay don’t have the advantages of modern technology and the scientific mind.

Me? I yell at my wife. And yell at the telephone and the lawn mower. And yell at the TV and the newspaper and my children. I’ve been known to shake my fist and yell at the sky at times.

Man next door yells at his car a lot. And this summer I heard him yell at a stepladder for most of an afternoon. We modern, urban, educated folks yell at traffic and umpires and bills and banks and machines–especially machines. Machines and relatives get most of the yelling.

Don’t know what good it does. Machines and things just sit there. Even kicking doesn’t always help. As for people, well, the Solomon Islanders may have a point. Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts

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moral: could it be that yelling kills a relationship? Like that of the villagers on the Soloman Islands whom killed trees by shouting at them. Sure, this might not be true, but the point is well taken.

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zen poet Ryokan 1758-1831

You stop to point at the moon in the sky,
but the finger’s blind unless the moon is shining.

One moon, one careless finger pointing –
are these two things or one?

The question is a pointer guiding
a novice from ignorance thick as fog.

Look deeper. The mystery calls and calls:
No moon, no finger — nothing there at all.

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have a peaceful day

 

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