Take the bell off the tiger’s neck

The Ming-Dynasty document narrates a rather 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. It was followed up by another test on March 22 of the same year. The United States Pacific Command reported the failure of the test. These unprecedented tests left Japan and South Korea worried. The United States, too, was concerned with the pace at which North Korea was developing their ballistic missile systems despite United Nations sanctions. The North presents a threat not just to the South but also to Japan and the United States. That is why the Obama administration purposed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the South. The Trump administration went ahead to ensure the plan was actualized. The first piece of the system arrived in the same year amid vehement protests from China.

Do not pass the buck

The world is currently bedevilled 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, diseases, climate change and destruction of natural resources.

These difficulties call for resolute efforts from all sane humans. 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 a contrite heart.

We are called to be the salt of the world. We can fulfil this mandate by praying and taking action. Create employment, conserve water (repair the leaking taps, close running taps, harvest rainwater), 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 the environment. Companies and organizations can participate too; by invoking the corporate citizenship philosophy. They can plough back to the community by strengthening health systems.

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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