I recently attended a festival, the Elspe Festival to be precise, which is based on a series of books written by a German author Karl May in the 1890s. These books are the story of the American West in the 1800’s, and one of the lead characters is a North American Indian by the name of Winnetou.
The concept of this festival is based around this series of books, and for this reason alone the festival is worth the visit. Even thought the author had not visited the United States before writing his first couple of Winnetou books, as an amateur historian I think there may be more truth to his stories then in some of the history books I have read.
The festival, which has been around for over fifty years, was highlighted with a two hour, intense, live action recreation of one of the books story lines and included a cast of around fifty performers’s and lots of horses. The audience of about one thousand were made up of all ages from 1 month to 100 years and were fully engulfed with the show. It became apparent to me as the show progressed they all knew the story. These books have been part of German culture for well over one hundred years.
Although it was the highlight, this was not the only show of the day. During the festival, there were a number of other performances and acts including an animal trainer who preformed tricks with three dogs, a cat, a chicken and a donkey.
Was fun to watch how this trainer had been able to teach these animals to perform tricks and not be inhibited, even though they were in the presence of what would be in the real world their natural enemies. It was obvious that the trainer had spent countless hours working with these animals so that when he commanded through action or sound, they would react just as he hoped.
It was fun to watch but made me think.
Think of us, the human race and how we are suppose to be the top of the food chain, the most intelligent beings on this earth and how easily we can also be mutilated in the same way.
During the course of my life, I would like to think that my view of the world is a little more open-minded than someone who has not read or researched or had the opportunity to travel our planet.
We see things every day on television or in the movie theatre and in some cases believe what we see. At times, this can be okay if we look at these sources as a pure entertainment, but if this is a significant source of our education, we are in trouble. Even the news outlets have to be viewed objectively. Contrary to what some news media outlets might say, I find most can be jaded to one side or another. With this in mind, I try to get my information from different sources, with different points of view so I gather enough information to make my own opinions and decisions.
As humans, I began to think how better the world might be if we took the time to learn more about each other, our customs, cultures and languages. This might start a better dialogue with each other, not based on mistrust or fear.
While sitting there watching the animal show, I thought that if these animals had the ability to see the bigger picture and do a little research they could probably source out the bag of treats the trainer was using to motivate them and when he was not looking eat as many as they want, without going through the motions.
I have to admit, even though I like to think I have an open mind, there are times I slip. I have been trying to learn German, and when I started all I saw were enormous words that seemed impossible to pronounce. After awhile I realized that many of these giant words were smaller words together, and many of those smaller words were remarkably similar to English words.
I suggested this to my instructor, and he informed me that many of the English words I mentioned originated from a German source. This is something I knew but obviously did not register. For thousands of years, we as a human race have been giving and taking from each other to give us what we are today. If this is the case I wonder why today it is so hard, for many of us world wide, to not try to understand each other.
What I have determined is that many of us, as a people are stagnate, in our own little worlds and are uncomfortable with the idea of change, have a fear of the unknown or allow greed to guide our lives.
We live on a small rock in the universe and in the large scheme of things we could be rated insignificant. But this is our rock, and we are fortunate that we have so much we can appreciate and offer to each other. We should not let this opportunity slip through our fingers.
I beseech you to read, read newspapers, surf websites, read books. You will notice that everything I am suggesting is plural. You cannot read one newspaper, one article, look at one website, read one book and know for a fact that everything is 100% accurate. Review a number of sources, integrate the data and then make up your own opinion. Learn about your neighbours, not only next door but the next continent. Don’t be afraid, with every second that passes and every breath we take, our lives are evolving. Appreciate and grow with the experience. Don’t be a trained animal.
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