USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘blind’
Proverbs

An Eye for an Eye Makes Everyone Blind

What is being performed?
DA: There’s this saying that goes, “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind.”
AA: What does it mean?
DA: It means, uh, basically that striking back won’t solve anything.
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Why do you know this proverb?
DA: I remember growing up hearing it in the context of the civil rights era.
AA: Why do you like it?
DA: I think it’s important to advocate for nonviolence with logic and I think that’s what this saying
is about.
AA: What do you mean with logic?
DA: I just mean that this quote simple enough to understand logically and that’s why it’s
effective.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
Delward Atkins has shared this proverb with his children as they were growing up and had to
learn how to deal with people on the playground. He sees it as an important life lesson that
especially needs to be taught to the younger generations.

Annotations
Quote Investigator, quoteinvestigator.com/2010/12/27/eye-for-eye-blind/.
This annotation shows the many people who have coined this phrase. Notably, Mahatma
Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Louis Fischer, and Henry Powell Spring have said variations of
this proverb. This publication also shows the different ways this proverb has been used. For
example, instead of just “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind” there’s also “an eye for an
eye makes the world blind.” The publication gives a chronological timeline of how the proverb
has changed over time and famous people that have helped change it.
Dear, John. “An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind.” The Huffington Post,
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Nov. 2016,
www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dear/an-eye-for-an-eye-makes-t_b_8647348.html.
This article shows how the proverb is used in a more recent context. It uses the phrase to
discuss the Paris terrorist attacks and shows how the phrase is still relevant- from protest signs
to songs and other forms of art that are being created to push for a world of nonviolence. It is a
proverb that might’ve been most famous in the 60s but is still present in the 2000s and can be
used as a strong argument for the cyclical nature of violence.

Reflection
I see this proverb as extremely important and relevant today. With the Syrian crisis going on and
the proxy war that now surrounds it, I think it’s important that we remember grass root political
movements and why nonviolence can be so effective for them. I think this proverb is about
creating change that is positive and doesn’t have to harm others in the making. I think that’s
what we need today.

Tales /märchen

Shim Chung

심청은 태어나자 마자 어머니를 여의고, 맹인 심학규의 딸로 홀로 아버지를 극진히 모시며 살아간다. 어느 날 심봉사는 실수로 개천에 빠져 허우적거리는 것을 지나가던 한 스님이 구해주고, 그 스님에게 부처님에게 공양하면 눈을 뜰 수 있다는  말에 넘어가 절에 공양미 300석을 바치겠다고 약속한다.

 

심청은 중국과 조선을 오고 가며 장사를 하던 상인들이 물살이 심해 사고가 자주 발생하는 인당수 지역에 용왕님을 달래기 위한 인신공양으로 바칠 사람을 찾고 있다는 소문을 듣고, 아버지의 눈을 뜨기 위해 자신이 그 제물이 되기로 작정하고 공양미 300석을 받고 인당수로 몸을 던지는데…

 

이에 감복한 하늘에 의해 용궁을 거쳐 다시 지상으로 올라가 황후가 되고 맹인 잔치를 벌여 아버지를 찾게 되었으며, 딸과 재회한 기쁨에 심봉사도 눈을 뜨게 된다는 내용.

 

Shim Chung lost her mother as soon as she was born, and lived alone with her father, Shim Hak-gyu, who was blind. One day, Shim Hak-gyu fell into a river and saved by a Buddhist priest and promised him that he would give 300 bags of rice to the temple, for which Buddha would fix his blindness.

 

Shim Chung heard rumors that the merchants who went to China and Chosun and went to the market looking for a person to serve as a human sacrifice in order to appease the King Yongdang in the frequent occurrence of accidents. In order to open his father’s eyes, she determined to become this, and take the 300 bags of rice throwing herself into the sea.

 

When she threw herself into the sea, the heavenly god was moved and saved her. She became the wife of a king and the King provided a party for blind people and her father was invited there and met her daughter. Surprised and pleased, he opened his eyes.

 

Background Information:

 

This story emphasizes serving one’s parents with devotion which is very important in Korean culture. This story is in children’s book and learned at elementary school.

 

Context:

 

This is mostly performed as Korean traditional opera.

Personal Analysis:

This story shows that Korean people care about respecting elders. It’s a part of their culture that respect is given as a default unlike in America where respect should be earned. The happy ending seems a bit unrealistic, but it shows the daughter doing her duty to serve her dad as well as the blessings that came because of it.

Folk Beliefs
Tales /märchen

Afghan Parable: Blindness and Truth

Main Piece: “So once my mom told me a story about a group of boys playing near a bridge. So they see a blind kid… um… and they ask why God would make this boy blind? And they feel very sorry for him. So in this story they ask God, ‘why did you make this boy blind?’ and then they tell God, ‘you should give him sight.’ So God does. God gives the boy sight. And then the boys are very pleased with themselves… uh… so they go to the top of the bridge because they have a game of jumping off of it…it’s a low bridge. But the blind boy who now can see has set up sharpened sticks underneath the bridge. So that when the boys jump, they all die.”

Background: The informant’s mother recently told her this story after her grandfather died a few months ago. Her mother had been told this story by her father as a cautionary tale about coming to the U.S. The informant says her mother understood this parable as an implication to not always trust what you think you know. The informant understands it’s meaning to be: “don’t question God ever because purpose is not in our hands.”

Performance Context: The informant and I had lunch together and sat at a table across from each other.

My Thoughts: A generational parable has survived through the family’s telling. The story’s dark nature evokes fear in the receiver of the story. I understand the telling of it as partly religious, partly cautionary, and partly moralistic. I find it interesting that the informant’s mother was reminded of the parable after her father’s death. The symbolism of blindness in terms of truth is a consistent metaphor in moralistic tales. Also important to note is the hesitance to trust American culture as an immigrant. I understand this story as told outside the context of religion, implying more about belief and trust than religion and morals.

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