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Editorial

Gentle Virtues


Mutuality



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11/01/2009 - A tiny, red and white cleaner shrimp steps inside the open mouth of a moray eel and begins to clean the eel's pointy teeth. They are helping one another. The shrimp is helping the eel keep its teeth from rotting and falling out and the eel is providing fuel for the shrimp's survival. They are symbiotic sea creatures. That is, they share a relationship that mutually benefits one another.

At times a hermit crab will share a symbiotic relationship with a stinging sea anemone. The crab will pick it up, place it on its shell and tote it around. The sea anemone will ward off the crab's enemies, particularly octopuses. In return, the crab will provide food particles for the sea anemone to eat. They share a mutual relationship.

The word "mutual" comes from the Latin root word "muto" meaning "to change". This kind of change refers to an interchange. In a mutual relationship, there are healthy interchanges of giving and receiving.

What kind of mutual relationship do you enjoy sharing with someone? Does a certain family member, friend, neighbor or business associate come to mind?

We might think of ourselves as being independent, but actually, we need one another. Not one of us can do everything that makes our community function well. We need people to restock grocery aisles, tend to cash registers, deposit checks, sell postage stamps, mop floors, drill oil, deliver fuel, pour curbsides, repair potholes, pick up trash, catalog books, entertain, enforce the law, stitch cuts, fill teeth, fit glasses, cut hair and raise the next generation. And this list is far from being exhaustive! It's a good thing that we have one another.

While we are being helpful in whatever way, may each of us feel that our contribution matters. No contribution is too small or insignificant. For when we all put our efforts together, we have a thriving communituy, a special place to raise our families.

While we are mutually helping one antoher, may we also have an interchange of mutual kindness, appreciation and respect. And with time, may we be able to mutually trust one another.

I encourage you to take note of the people who are helping you and those you are helping. The examples are numerous, as numerous as the cleaner shrimp, moray eels, hermit crabs and sea anemone in and by the sea.

Go ahead, feel blessed. And be a blessing.

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