Today is Friday the 13th. Superstitious people feel uneasy; they believe it’s a bad-luck day. Here’s a questionnaire to see if you are superstitious.
Would you stay in a hotel room on the 13th floor? Do you read the horoscope column in this paper?
Do you make a wish before blowing out your birthday candles? Do you try to catch the bride’s bouquet or garter? Have you encouraged a nervous actor by saying, “Break a leg?”
Can you say this rhyme from memory? “Star-light, star-bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” As a child, when you walked on a sidewalk, were you haunted by “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back?”
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If you’re superstitious, don’t feel too bad; many people are, at least a little. Even World War II American airmen, who regularly braved enemy anti-aircraft fire and fighter planes, were superstitious.
Before taking off, some pocketed pebbles from their planes’ parking places. When they made it back they replaced the pebbles. They felt that showed they expected to return.
Also, rural landowners often hire dowsers, sometimes called water witches. The dowsers tell the owners where to drill wells.
In 1982, I wrote about a North County water witch. He was then 72 years old and sincerely believed he could find underground water.
I watched him at work one day. He used two thin, L-shaped, steel rods. As he walked he held them pointing forward like pistols, one in each hand.
Once, at the bottom of a gully the rods swung toward each other and crossed against his chest. He then declared there was water 95 feet below him, and it could be pumped at 5 to 6 gallons per minute.
He said he also did long-distance dowsing from his home. He would consult his rods, while his wife would run a pencil over a map’s grid lines. He said he found water that way in Oregon.
My dictionary defines superstition as “any belief that is inconsistent with known facts or rational thought.” I suppose that would include the beliefs that taxes are evil and should never be raised, or the belief that there’s a simple solution to every complex problem.
Or the belief that people who don’t look like me or talk like me must be inferior to me.
So, what should we believe? How about this: I should treat everyone the way I want to be treated.
That’s a good start.
Reach Phil Dirkx at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2372.