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75 Who will tie the bell?

Story 1: mice

The mouse convention proudly announced their best safety measure to date: tie a bell on the cat so that they always have warning of the predator’s approach. The jubilation halted abruptly when an elderly mouse asked the body, “Who will tie the bell on the cat?”

In this happiness blog I have floated many ideas for improving the world. Article 74 urged applying all real wealth to improve quality of life. That was a setup for the above question, which is now “whose resources do we use?”

The maxim “gold is where you find it” makes the simplest answer obvious: resources exist to improve life, and society will use the resources that exist.

Story 2: self and/or other

We should all be thinking of others, not ourselves, right? WRONG! That thinking separates individuals and shifts burdens onto “others.”

Unselfishly helping is a consummate virtue. However, distinguishing between self and other is muddled thinking. Worthwhile benefit accrues to people together. A good deed done for you improves my life also. This reciprocity is inherent and inescapable.

If humans remain discrete silo worlds, there will never be social order. The self-not-other viewpoint is an exclusive characteristic of those silos. It does not comprehend the fact of life which article 71 calls blending.

Therefore “we”

Society is the perspective in which humans are equal parts of a whole. The field of view is always the whole. That viewpoint defines and creates social order, a blessing that nobody possess alone.

“I in you, and you in me” is a popular phrase describing mutual being. That defines the concept “we,” the combination of, not distinction between, self and other.

Bonus: a poetic koan


I knew you before we met for the first time.

You were there before me
At the fountain of creation
When I was already old.

When time enfolds us again
Will you be wearing my moccasins?

Beloved sibling, be part of me
That we may know our differences
From each other.

Do not imitate me that I may not know another way of being.

O separate soul and being, should we live together forever until the beginning,
Let my uniqueness be your identity for but a moment until the explosion
That increases the extent of the immeasurable universe.

Let not the tools of our emergence
Close the door that else were life
Outside our own.

Copyright © 2009 Kent V. Busse (23 October 2009)
It may be helpful to contemplate the Moebius Strip and Klein Bottle.

Please do not brush this aside as meaningless prattle. It is a collage of terms that lets you connect the parts. (Were you unique before the Big Bang?) Life is like that. You never see all of it and the connections you make are unique to you. You make different connections at different times. The koan contributes to blending self and other.

What this means for self and other

Western civilization has emphasized individuality and independence, sometimes letting trees block the view of the forest. We are underdeveloped in awareness of being a group. Western religions might emphasize personal worthiness so much that people forget to respect the other and never realize their interdependence and interbeing.

It seems to come naturally to want to prevail, to be at the top, and to be independent of others. However, without the whole, there would be no individuality (article 46 difference is essential to meaning, article 64 please disagree). Enlightenment is appreciating how my reality dovetails with your reality as part of universal reality. Blending self and other is not diluting either; it is enriching both.

Activism without demands or protests


“Majority rule” means minimizing the number of voters who face disappointment. As a counting process it is more logical than flipping a coin, but it never validates a principle. We cannot change the temperature of the ocean by popular vote. Majority voting for inaccurate ideas leads to implementation of unsuccessful decisions.


Now we can apply today’s lesson to activism, the promotion of specific ideas. Advocates of all stripes seek popularity for their proposals. Where public demonstration means teaching by “demonstrating” a truth, it is a shared two-way communication. However, the word demonstration is often applied instead to demands and protests. Both of those words drive the parties apart; “demonstrators” of that type are expecting others to change. Too often a demonstrator is demanding that government force “others” to conform.

Insisting rather than persuading denies the humanity and rights of others. Contention and discord are assertions of self over others. Western civilization will be much better civilized when we decide that cooperating is winning. We are not in a survival contest against members of the human family. We are interdependent for our survival as a family.

The keywords of world peace are “we” and “together.” After we stop separating ourselves from others, today’s proposal says: we use our resources to improve our lives.

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