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Spitting Against the Wind (Tif ba rui bada aka)

Human life has developed for thousands of years. Many things have changed: the growth of societies, forms of government, ideologies, and science and technology provide experiences beyond the dreams of our ancestors. Yet our basic needs and main worries remain the same, because people across the globe have all shared similar experiences. Whoever studies cultures and the histories of nations will find many similarities, especially in philosophy, wisdom, and proverbs.

While I was writing about Kurdish proverbs, I read in an article the title of this African proverb: "Ashes fly back into the face of he who throws them." This reminded me of a very similar proverb often used in my country: "He spit against the wind," which means a man's spit will go nowhere––it will only come back onto his face. Whenever we find similar proverbs in different cultures, the question arises: which nation coined the proverb first? But I am not a historian, and the purpose of this book is not to trace the provenance of every proverb. I have only included proverbs used by Kurds for many centuries.

Just as the characteristics of one language are found in many languages, each culture shapes other cultures to some degree. This is natural, since the human experience involves living together, though we may be separated by artificial national boundaries or even oceans. Today, the pace of technology has changed the way people influence each other in different cultures, and has undoubtedly accelerated these influences. The Internet and Dish TV have demolished boundaries. Now, globally people see each other and “live chat” as though they live in the same city!

There are probably many proverbs in different cultures that prescribe the same lessons as the African and Kurdish proverbs above. But the lessons of each are the same: one should never make false accusations against another, talk nonsense, or claim to be able to do something when one does not have the capability to carry it out. When a Kurd says that a person is "spitting against the wind," the meaning is clear: ignore what that person is saying!

This proverb tells us not to spit against the wind, but some fools may use it as an excuse for going with the wind. While going with the wind in my culture is a description of a person who has no principles to live by and no direction, someone who has no mission and no aim in his life, a selfish and hypocritical person––this proverb has nothing to do with that, and it in no way encourages or tells people to go with the wind! Rather, it prevents people from making wrong accusations and tells them to stop their insane acts, because when someone spits against the wind it will turn back only onto his own face.

10/26/2010