Daily Riches: A Great Leap Backward, Then and Now (Ron Dunn)

“Why do we love what is rare and despise what is all around us?” Ron Dunn

“Mao was a man in control of his world, but not, at least in the beginning, of the sparrows. He viewed sparrows as one of the four ‘great’ pests of his regime (along with rats, mosquitoes and flies).  …At the moment at which Mao decided to kill the sparrows, there were hundreds of millions of them in China (some estimates run as high as several billion), but there were also hundreds of millions of people. Mao commanded people all over the country to come out of their houses to bang pots and make the sparrows fly, which, in March of 1958, they did. The sparrows flew until exhausted, then they died, mid-air, and fell to the ground, their bodies still warm with exertion. Sparrows were also caught in nets, poisoned and killed, adults and eggs alike, anyway they could be. By some estimates, a billion birds were killed. These were the dead birds of the great leap forward, the dead birds out of which prosperity would rise. Of course moral stories are complex, and ecological stories are too. When the sparrows were killed, crop production increased … at least initially. But with time, something else happened. Pests of rice and other staple foods erupted in densities never seen before. The crops were mowed down and, partly as a consequence of starvation due to crop failure, 35 million Chinese people died. The great leap forward leapt backward, which is when a few scientists in China began to notice a paper published by a Chinese ornithologist before the sparrows were killed. The ornithologist had found that while adult tree sparrows mostly eat grains, their babies … tend to be fed insects. In killing the sparrows, Mao and the Chinese had saved the crops from the sparrows, but appear to have left them to the insects.” Ron Dunn

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
Luke 12:6

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you learned to “despise what is common?”
  • What would it mean that “not one of them [the sparrows] are forgotten by God?”
  • Do you believe God had entrusted a sacred responsibility to us to care for his planet?

Abba, help me to value all the creatures you have made and that share this planet with me.

For More: “The Story of the Most Common Bird in the World” by Ron Dunn


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)