Kurdish Proverb

A Rock Is Strong in Its Place
(Bard La Jegay Khoy Sangina)

Kurds live among and with rocks, especially those Kurds living in the mountains.  For these Kurds, rocks serve not only as chairs upon which they sit, beds upon which they sleep, or pillows upon which they rest their heads, but as weapons to either hunt animals or defend themselves.

Whenever someone digs a well, he has a difficult time reaching down and removing big rocks [from the earth].  The same thing is so if you’re leading a camel to water and you encounter big rocks on the path and have to move them from their place in order to get by.  After the rocks are removed, it is easy to continue on. The only problem you have is when the rock is in its place, because then it is hard to move or pull out. 

This is why it is said, “a rock’s value is in its place.”

Kurds understand this because millions of them have been uprooted and moved from their land, towns, and farms, only to suffer humiliation as refugees.   

Throughout history, Kurds have been accused of having heads like rocks––in other words, no mind with which to understand.  Even here in the CMU, there is a person who laughs at me whenever he sees me.  When I ask him what’s so funny, he will say, “Whenever you Kurds try to punch a hole in the wall, it won’t go through just because your head is hard.”  But this proverb is not about [having no mind with which to understand].  This proverb is to show and teach the children. It is used for two situations.

  1. When someone leaves his family and friends and lives as a foreigner where people do not know him, he loses the respect and dignity he used to have among his [own] people. Then someone will remind him, “a rock is strong in its place,” to encourage him to go back to his family and friends or to warn him from fleeing his [own] country.  I know of millions of refugees in this situation who experience this every day, especially those from Palestine and Iraq.   
  2. When someone uses the wrong tools to fix something, or misplaces an item, or uses the wrong person to complete a job, it will be difficult or impossible to get results until [all these elements] are put back into their proper places where they belong. So people say, “a rock is strong in its place.”

A donkey in the jungle or in the mountains is better than 100 cars, but one car on the highway equals 1,000 donkeys, each one in its place.

Where is a doctor important: in the hospital, or on a soccer field?
Where is judge respected: in the courtroom, or in a cinema?

Posted 4/18/08

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April 19, 2008

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