In the last few minutes I’ve returned from a beautiful time with some of the people here on the farm. They came to see me because they had found a very large snake and were frightened. And in fact it was a snake that would strike fear into the hearts of many, for we appear to have developed over eons of myth and legend with smatterings of truth, fear of snakes.
The black mamba is said to be the fastest snake on earth. It can stand up erect and magnificent leaving only a third of its length on the ground. It can then take off and fling itself into trees giving the impression that it’s flying. It can bite repeatedly, and each time leave poisonous venom in the wound, whereas most snakes can only bite once. it’s very territorial and its prey can be dead in twenty minutes. It is also very beautiful, greenish in colour with a seemingly small head, but opens, in warning, a very large mouth which is completely back within. In general it’s feared and killed on site.
But… it’s a thing of beauty and magnificence if we can just get past the old myths, our inbuilt misconceptions and fears. Though it will hold its ground, and may attack should you attack it or get too close, it will generally eye you and go in the other direction if you respect it and do the same.
We had a good talk while watching it lying enjoying itself in the water from the sprinkler where it was no doubt waiting to find a meal of a bird that was doing the same thing. Most people wanted to kill it. We didn’t! It gave an opportunity for us to talk about respect and understanding, recognising differences, the willingness to learn about each other rather than make assumptions about people or things being evil because they’re different to us. One commented that he’d been taught as a child that all white people are cruel and had believed that till he came to the farm. It led us to a discussion on war and how we often judge others by the myths there are around them, the difference in their beliefs, their politics, their dress, their behaviour. I remembered quite derogatory and inflammatory remarks that I’ve heard and seen in the media (some of them ridiculing me!) about those we may not understand or know but about whom we make assumptions on very little real knowledge or fact, and add to dangerous myths and legends that create separation and raise conflict. It reminded me of the beliefs I’ve heard aired and even taught to children in areas where there has been conflict and where I’m actively trying to help build peace; the generalisations I hear about a particular nationality or religious sect, some of which are actually acts of war in themselves.
So, we didn’t wage war on our black mamba. We let him go in peace and we all left in peace, and I’m back here with you.
Let us all be in peace today if we can. And if you have time, come and talk to me on the forum.