Take the bell off the tiger’s neck

The Ming-Dynasty document narrates a very interesting story of one Chan Master, Fadeng, who lived in Buddhist temple in Nanjing, China.  Fadeng was a brave and a  dissolute man. He had no considerations to the strict Buddhist code. This made all the monks in the temple to look down upon him except for the abbot who would consider him favourably.

One time, during a preaching lecture, the abbot asked all the monks in the temple, “who can take off the golden bell tied on the tiger’s neck?” No one of the monks could figure out an answer. It is at this time that Fedeng happened to pass by the temple. The abbot asked him the same question.

Fadeng did not scratch his head. “Let him who tied the bell on the tiger’s neck take it off,” he answered. When he heard this, the abbot knew that Fadeng understood the Buddhist doctrine and he applauded him in front of all the monks.

Fadeng’s answer was handed down as an idiom to mean whoever started the trouble should end it.

This idiom was used by Chinese official when reacting to the events in the Korean Peninsula. Early in March, 2017, North Koreans tested two intermediate ballistic missiles that fell into Japanese waters. This was followed up by another test in March 22. The United States Pacific Command reported the failure of the test. These unprecedented tests have left Japan and South Korea worried. The United States is also concerned with the pace at which North Korea is developing their ballistic missile systems despite Unite Nations sanctions. The North present a threat not just to the South but also to Japan and the United States. That is why the Obama administration purposed to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the South. The Trump Administration has gone ahead to ensure the purpose is actualized. The first piece of the system arrived in the South this month amid vehement protests from China.

This same month of March saw a terrorist strike London resulting in the death of four.

Tensions in the Middle East reached high crescendo as Syria shot at Israel’s warplanes with surface to air missiles. The planes were returning to Israel airbases after conducting air raids deep within Syria. The Israel government said the attacks were carried out to halt transfer of game changing weapons to Hezbollah.  It was the first time for Syria to take such an action since the Civil War broke out in 2011. The surface to air missile was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile. In hot pursuit of this came a tough warning from Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s defence minister. Lieberman threatened to destroy Syria’s air defense systems ‘without a second thought’. More action was to follow with Israel jets reported to have struck Syria’s radar systems.

The former Egyptian strongman walked free. He has been in incarceration since 2011 after the infamous Arab Springs. He had  been accused of killing demonstrators.

Do not pass the buck

The world is currently bedeviled with myriad challenges. Unemployment and lack of economic opportunities, food and water scarcity, political instability, lack of education, insecurity and poverty, wars and religious conflicts, climate change and destruction of natural resources.

These challenges call for resolute efforts. They demand unity and action from all of us.

As Christians and indeed citizens of this planet, we cannot afford to pass the buck. We cannot say like Fedeng that the person who tied the bell around the tiger’s neck should be the one to remove it. David did not blame anyone for Goliath’s constant insults. He took action. He confronted the constant insults albeit with contrite heart.

We are called to be the salt of the world. We can fulfill this mandate by praying and taking action. Create employment, conserve water (repair the leaking taps, close running taps, harvest rain water), conserve water towers, plant food, rear animals and fish. Spread the information and share skills. Start a movement to tap talents among the youth. Start a drive to preach peace, speak against divisions, and conserve environment. Companies and organizations can participate too; by invoking the corporate citizenship philosophy. The biggest industries in our country can support community health activities. They can plough back to the community by strengthening health systems. They can do this from the grass-roots level. It is noble to sponsor golf tournaments, it is nobler to sponsor a community health unit.

I believe these are practical ways to make the world a better place. We have an opportunity to think big. We are presented with the platform to think globally and act locally.


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