Slaughter and Laughter

Double slaughter
Image by zz77 via Flickr


I never realized how close in spelling those two words were until just now when I wrote them.  Interesting, huh?

I chose this title after walking down a busy street here in a poorer section of Maadi.  This is the season of the Holiday of the Sacrifice, when Muslims who can afford it slaughter a sheep or goat or cow to commemorate the sacrifice that God provided for Abraham when he was about to kill his son.  It’s a good thing to remember, I think.  God can provide the sacrifice when we need it.  Abraham obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son … crazy as that command must have felt to him.  Abraham trusted God enough to obey him.  The Bible even says that Abraham believed God could raise his son from the dead if need be, so even though he didn’t know why God would ask him to do such a crazy thing, he believed God would still spare his son somehow.  As a Christian, it makes me remember the ultimate sacrifice that God provided through Jesus – the sacrifice that can save all of us from eternal slaughter.  But as Christians, we don’t have vivid ceremonies such as slaughtering a sheep to remind us of God’s provision.  This makes the holiday here a bit hard to stomach at times.  Seeing carcasses hanging from balconies, watching a group of men stripping the skin from a cow, noticing the blood running in the streets, hearing the bleating of the sheep before it’s their turn — all these things are a bit repulsive to my western senses.  After all, I usually buy my meat wrapped in plastic wrap sitting on a Styrofoam plate from the grocer’s shelves.  It doesn’t resemble an animal at all.  And so, as I walked down the street, on this, the second day of the holiday, I kind of chuckled as I noticed two things, almost side by side.

First, I saw the children on the swings.  I remembered that this is common during holiday times.  Someone will come to a busy area of town and set up some amusement rides.  They aren’t so much like the ones we see in America sometimes, that have roller coasters and Ferris wheels set up for a week at a  time for some festival.  These are more basic — a trampoline or large swings … nothing motorized.  I don’t know the cost of a ride as I warned my girls long before they saw them that we aren’t going to go on any rides, we’re just walking by.  I would guess they cost 1-3 Egyptian pounds (.20 – .50 cents) per ride.  And the kids were enjoying themselves on these rides.  Laughter.

And then, as I got closer to the swings, which were easily seen from a distance, I noticed, less than a block from the swings, a small area where people were butchering their sheep.  I made sure not to look too closely, but did see a sheep’s head, complete with round horns, hanging on the front of the little stand.  Slaughter.

I don’t think either station was bothered by the other.  It’s a major religious holiday.  It’s not a holiday without the slaughter.  And since it’s a holiday, it should contain laughter.  In time, proximity, and spelling – it’s interesting that the two words go so well together.

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