Kurdish Proverb

Ba Qsa Asana Balm Ba Krdawa Grana

(which means, It's Easy by Mouth but It's Not So Easy by Action)

There is always a difference between theory and science, between talking and acting, between what we hear and what we see, between claim and reality. Changing a situation and building a nation depends on action. Everywhere you will find people who talk, criticize, claim, and dream, but how many of them are standing for what they say? Or how much do their actions prove what they claim? In Kurdistan we say, "The one who speaks a lot will not act upon it." We must keep our words, do what we say, and work instead of talk, in order to separate ourselves from hypocrites and modern politicians who are good at talking but who usually do the opposite of what they say!

We are what we do, not what we say. Many people have beautiful thoughts and ideas but never put them into action. The way to find out whether our words are practical or not is to put them into action. Change and improvement are fruits of hard work, not of nice talk only!

We use this proverb a lot, and we say this whenever some idealist talks about beautiful theories or ideas for a solution to all the world’s conflicts and problems, but he doesn’t have any means or clear plan for it; or when someone criticizes what people are doing while he does nothing. And if he is not ready to prove any differently by his actions, we say to him, "It’s easy by mouth, not so easy by action."

Nations are made great by people who struggle and work hard, not by those who are good speakers and do nothing. I still remember when I was seven years old in 1977 and my cousin Hasan bought a bicycle. That was the first bike that had ever been seen in our village. We were all excited to see it, and we tried to get close to Hasan and befriend him so that maybe he would let us touch the bike. Hasan himself did not know how to ride a bike; we used to hold it steady for him, but still he had a hard time trying to stand up on it and ride it. One day, after we had tried hard to teach him to ride the bike but he had not made any improvement, we thought he would not be able to learn. But none of us told him that. Then one of Hasan's neighbors, Mardan, came over as soon as he found out what we were doing. When he learned that Hasan couldn’t ride his own bike, Mardan looked at Hasan and said, "But it’s easy." Hasan got mad and asked him if he could ride a bike? Mardan replied, “Of course! There’s nothing to it. All you have to do is hold the handlebar and start pedaling!”

Hasan gave Mardan the bike to ride, but Mardan was not even able to stand on the bike. He fell to the right and then to the left, and even though we held the bike steady for him, Mardan was shaking and not able to pedal. Then Hasan told him, "It’s easy by mouth but not by ass"––an informal way to say this proverb. In fact, Mardan was right in his instructions for riding a bike: all anyone has to do is hold the handlebar and pedal. But he was wrong to think that it was easy, and that he could do it in practice!

No one is born with knowledge. Whatever we learn in our life that we can do, many things may look fun and seem to be easy, but that doesn’t mean they are! We do not know for sure until we try them. This is always the problem with being an idealist!

The tongue is the most important tool we have to communicate with people so we can express ourselves or exchange our ideas. A kind word will reach and touch hearts; we should never remain silent. Speaking to people, telling a story, or asking questions will improve our lives, open our minds, and educate us. But to make that happen, we need to prove all of what we say, and show people that we mean it by our actions. There is no benefit from philosophy if nobody practices it, no benefit from an idea if no one follows it, and no benefit from talking without acting upon it. Building our lives and our universe requires action rather than talking. All of what we say is just claim and propaganda until we put our words into action and practice them. People need to struggle and work for a better future and for real change; by only talking, we will never reach these goals.

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November 21, 2009

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