Blog Your Blessings: Somebody Has to Kill the Chicken

The story: shortly after a young American boy arrives in Indonesia with his mother to begin life with her new husband, a man arrives at the door carrying a red hen and a long sharp knife. The mother and step-father exchange words over whether the boy should witness what is about to happen. The step-father has the final word, saying the boy is old enough to know where his dinner comes from. Next, the child witnesses the killing of the chicken with one cut of the knife across its throat and the death throes of the animal.

The family share a meal of chicken stew in subdued silence.

Later, the boy lies back, rests, and reflects on the day. He can't believe his good fortune.

"So, what's good about his fortune?

"Good about watching a chicken die? That's gross. That ain't no good fortune. It's sick."

"It is gross. But the boy is glad to have had the experience. Why?"

"They do that in Puerto Rico with the ducks except they tie the feet together and hang them up--"

"No. It's like on MTV--"

"What's on MTV?"

The story: "Young ladies who have lived privileged lives are sent into the world by their wealthy families to experience life with people who don't have it so good. So they can see how it is."

"So they're like the boy?"

"Yeah, so they know it ain't easy for everybody like it is for them."

That's the story: somebody has to kill the chicken.

This was a brief bright moment among some eighth graders who just couldn't get over the crimson ribbon of blood shooting out of the bird's neck, its head lolling on its side, the last gasp. I don't know anything about this MTV program. I guess it doesn't matter; she could connect the rich girls' slumming it with an anecdote from Dreams from my Father and understand that a lot of sacrifice and labor go into the making of a life. That's a cool thing.

Blog Your Blessings


  1. I've never heard of that show either. But I do know how important it is to see the blessings in every day.

  2. Thanks for the memory of my Daddy ringing a chicken's neck and Mama plucking off the feathers and cooking it up for Sunday dinner. Grossed me out as a five year old and I didn't care about eating a chicken legs for a long, long time. Needless to say, I got over it. One thing about growing up poor you know where your dinner comes from because either you helped grow it or kill it.

  3. It's interesting its from Barack Obama's life story-would like to read that. I wrote an article last year- called homemade fried chicken.Makes you appreciate all it takes to have food in our homes. See

  4. It almost sounds like that Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie show, where they went and stayed with regular families and had to *horors* do the dishes and stuff.

    Tink *~*~*
    My Mobile Adventures *~*~* Presents: Six Mile Cypress Sky

  5. True--there's good fortune in everything, if only we search deeply enough. Interesting story, this!

  6. Interesting narrative, Sandy

    I agree with the moral there...
    I had always though the Gen-X of India who walk into the fast-money of US/UK call centre jobs, leaving their studies with 12 grade school level should be made to understand the value of eductaion, the value of money, and the value of life and relationships --

    And now with call centres fast closing down their shop, the time is about up...

    For some really needy children, who take shifts and go to college, contribute to their parents -- its a blow though...


  7. what a wonderful story with a moral story, very inspiring!

  8. Stories with morals are the best way to learn, even better than doing because the metaphor can be expanded into other areas.

  9. some says i frankly, like you,
    others it'd an offer to God.

    some buy chicken,
    but have never seen them allive

  10. Thought provoking! Aloha-

  11. Beautiful dialog and interesting story, Sandy.

  12. You are right, somebody got to kill the chicken ... I use to hate it when it was my turn to kill the chicken, and was even more pissed of that all I got to eat was chicken wings or the chicken neck ---- but then that was the blessing .. to have something to eat.

  13. Oh .. gee. I forgot to say, that this was a very interesting dialogue and I enjoyed it.

  14. It does seem like a stretch to get from a priveleged life to a dead chicken. Interesting story. At least something good is coming out of MTV. I have often wondered.

  15. Anonymous10:34 AM

    I think it's pretty cool too! A true gem in the life of a teacher!

  16. Anonymous12:00 PM

    I love it when ordinary things in life give us great lessons.

  17. well I am sure for a lot of us, we were convinced that fish were square for a long time while we were young...

    Interesting lesson

  18. A very nostalgic story. Reminds me of my days in the Philippines when I was a small girl. My mother always asked me to help her dressed the chicken because I wasn't scared. We have raised chicken in our small backyard and slaughter them for dinner. Today my children don't know how chicken get into the supermarket but I do. Anyway, I still love to eat crispy fried chicken.

  19. Anonymous7:53 PM

    Definitely a good life's lesson. I posted my blessing up a wee bit early too. Have a great upcoming week my friend :)

  20. Oh dear... well, I suppose finding ANYTHING good in "The Simple Life" with Paris Hilton is a positive... but I remain iffy on the medium for that message! :)

    (My blessing, as always, will be up tomorrow for Sunday... 12:00am EST...)

  21. There are no chinesse resturants in Riverside village

  22. Anything that promotes critical thinking has value... even if it does involve Paris Hilton. It's cool to see a young student generalizing information. The ability to think in the abstract has been lost to the formulaic sets of specific instructions we find everywhere we go. Push this button, then that one, fit tab-A into slot-B... no tools required.

    Good job on that one Sandy.

  23. Hmm, my grandma used to kill the chicken. I couldn't do it, but yeah, someone has to.

  24. I'm still thinking about this story and it's implications. Happy BYB Sunday.

  25. I finally made it to comment. The rec room computer couldn't get on the internet for a week!

    I love that life has so many lessons and as a teacher, the "aha" moment is truly a blessing!

  26. Anonymous7:57 PM

    I wonder if those parents that send their kids out into the world for an "experience" would do the same if they had seen what was awaiting their children?

    Did not get by last Sunday, so I am doubly blessed today.

  27. Anonymous12:50 AM

    Amen. I'm an American city boy who moved to rural New Zealand and I'm learning about country life. I just helped kill my first chicken, and it wasn't easy. I've eaten chicken all my life, but never had to do this. It's enough to make me consider becoming a vegetarian!


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