"...the locusts noisily thanked us and turned their jaws toward our crops, swallowing our greed whole..."
October 29, 2007 9:25 AM Subscribe
posted by baphomet (40 comments total)
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In 1958, Chairman Mao started a war. His foe: millions of hungry animals across China, particularly the sparrow. Villages and cities were mobilized to execute the birds en masse
. Their crime: pecking away at fields and storehouses, stealing precious grain from the mouths of China's masses. Entire families brandished pots, pans, and other weapons of cacophonous warfare
to panic the birds into forced flight, causing millions of them to drop from the skies
The sparrows, it was discovered, could sustain no more than a minute or so of continuous flight without dying of fatigue- this technique, along with firing squads and nest destruction, killed an estimated 4 million or more sparrows.
The sparrow war backfired, however. By the time it was realized that the sparrow consumed primarily insects, not grain, the locust population had already spiraled out of control. This event, along with other causes(8KB .PDF)
culminated in the deaths of 30 million people as famine unfolded across the land from 1959-1961.
This was just one of the many disasterous inititatives of Mao's Great Leap Forward.
In 2006, instrumental post-rock band Red Sparowes released a stunning album, Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun
by these events. The song titles of the album comprise a poem about the inspiration for the album:
The Great Leap Forward poured down upon us one day like a mighty storm, suddenly and furiously blinding our senses.
We stood transfixed in blank devotion as our leader spoke to us, looking down on our mute faces with a great, raging, and unseeing Eye.
Like the howling glory of the darkest winds, this voice was thunderous and the words holy, tangling their way around our hearts and clutching our innocent awe.
A message of avarice rained down upon us and carried us away into false dreams of endless riches.
Annihilate the sparrow, that stealer of seed, and our harvests will abound; we will watch our wealth flood in.
And by our own hand did every last bird lie silent in their puddles, the air barren of song as the clouds drifted away. For killing their greatest enemy, the locusts noisily thanked us and turned their jaws toward our crops, swallowing our greed whole.
Millions starved and became skinnier and skinnier, while our leaders became fatter and fatter.
Finally, as that blazing sun shone down upon us, did we know that true enemy was the voice of blind idolatry; and only then did we begin to think for ourselves.
Make sure to check out the second link as it contains an interesting first-hand account from someone who participated in the sparrow massacre.