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At the end of your earth life you will all expect mercy;

therefore do I require of you during your mortal life that 

you show mercy to all of your brethren in the flesh.

                                                                  –  Urantia Book, p. 1571.4





~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The song –  “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie”  is attributed to Lead Belly.


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It’s a simple song –



My (current) suspicion as to why this song is (so) touching … is that – it is about Mercy.


I have read that Huddie Bedbetter (Lead Belly) knew how to work hard.  He picked cotton on a prison farm : Lead Man, in the Lead Row, in the highest-producing work-farm in Texas.  I’m pretty sure he knew what it was like to be thirsty … to crave a simple drink of water.

Also (in general) he knew about suffering (and being in Need of Mercy) … as every black person in America has known that.  And their (white) masters have not been famous for their mercy.


The poignancy in the request for water … comes from the intensity of the suffering from which the request is made.


Blacks were fed a steady diet of brutality and degradation  –





Joel Chandler Harris is credited as “author” of (the many) “Uncle Remus” stories; but Harris says – he did not make up one word of them.  He simply wrote them down as he heard them.

And these tales were a part of the black oral tradition (from the times of slavery in America).  There are many characters in these tales (and most of these are ‘animals’); but the two main ones are  – Bre’r Fox and Bre’r Rabbit. The blacks, you see, identified with the rabbit. And they’re the ones who made up these tales. … And the Fox (they all knew) represented their white masters.  Foxes and rabbits have lived in this world for a long time. And, of course, a fox will sometimes eat a rabbit … if he can catch him. But the rabbits are still here … and they survive (largely) by their wits.  So the slaves (made up and) told each other these stories … about how the rabbit would (usually) outwit the fox, and sometimes even make a fool out of him.

They fully realized that they were at a tremendous disadvantage in their (many) interactions with their white masters.  But in the stories, they were at liberty to best their (evil and formidable) adversary … in any way they could imagine. I’m sure it gave them many a laugh.  These tales gave them some relief, and perhaps kept them from complete discouragement and the depths of depression.

They comprise a noteworthy body of literature … and a good many of them are very funny indeed.


I would suggest –        The Favorite Uncle Remus

                                       by Joel Chandler Harris and A. B. Frost 





When I saw the film “The Sting”  (the scene where Robert Redford is walking alone along the city streets at night … accompanied by certain song (a Scott Joplin piece) – I was astonished that a piece of instrumental music could be (so clearly) compassionate.  Then I found out that the name of that song is …  “Solace” !

So – a song need not (even) have lyrics … to convey the energy of Mercy.





But … no doubt the real question is –  WILL WE BE CONVEYORS OF MERCY ?


For the purposes of this essay, we should acknowledge that MERCY is (approximately) equivalent to Loving Kindness.  


A good example is – the way the Samaritan treated the stranger he came across (who had been robbed, beaten, and left by the wayside) –

“A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of cruel brigands, who robbed him, stripped him and beat him, and departing, left him half dead. Very soon, by chance, a certain priest was going down that way, and when he came upon the wounded man, seeing his sorry plight, he passed by on the other side of the road. And in like manner a Levite also, when he came along and saw the man, passed by on the other side. Now, about this time, a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed down to Jericho, came across this wounded man; and when he saw how he had been robbed and beaten, he was moved with compassion, and going over to him, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and setting the man upon his own beast, brought him here to the inn and took care of him. And on the morrow he took out some money and, giving it to the host, said: ‘Take good care of my friend, and if the expense is more, when I come back again, I will repay you.’ Now let me ask you: Which of these three turned out to be the neighbor of him who fell among the robbers?” And when the lawyer perceived that he had fallen into his own snare, he answered, “He who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

                                                                                                                                             – UB   p. 1810


He had never met him before … yet he treated him like Family   (with mercy, with loving kindness)


Are we (ever) going to grow up and learn to treat each other … like Family?


Well … our values (to some extent, at least) –  fall out of our beliefs … out of ‘what we think is true’.   Mmm?


The fact that we (still) live in a “dog-eat-dog” world … indicates that we (still) believe that this is just ‘how the world is’.



…one of the things that’s become clear to me (just from watching certain YouTube videos over the last couple years) – is that ANIMALS are (also) loving!


[Love is not something that’s peculiar to humans]

Cats + owls … sharks + people … meerkats … whales … dolphins … crows … parrots … octopus … rhinos … alligators … bears … horses … lions … tigers … chimps and gorillas.


New videos roll in to YouTube … at the rate of 300 hours (of new video footage) EVERY MINUTE.


With so many ‘eyes’ now on the world around us – it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny – that we LIVE IN A LOVE-INFUSED UNIVERSE.


Maybe it’s time we gave up our “It’s a dog-eat-dog world” story (and the selfishness it seems to justify)  … Mmm?


As Stephen Hawking says –        The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance,

                                                                   it is the illusion of knowledge.


People like Simon Sinek (who teach leaders of big companies how to ‘create Family’ within their microculture and why they need to) … find themselves going up the ‘down’ staircase.  

Our current (dominant) management model / world view is (still) Productivity and Profits   over  People and Sustainability.     {Money over Mercy}


But I’m sure – this isn’t the best we can do …


Compassion is not at all weak.  It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world.  Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear;  it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of compassion … is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with sympathy for all living beings, without exception.    

                                                                                                   –     Sharon Salzberg


It’s up to us.        We can choose … (and we do).

So –

What if a society has the wherewithal to ease the suffering of their most disadvantaged members … but they choose not to?


Then what?



Brer Fox Holds the Horse

African American


One day Brer Rabbit was going along the road studying how he was going to hold his own with Brer Fox when he saw a great big horse lying stretched out flat on his side in the pasture. He crept up, he did, to see if this horse had gone and died. He crept up, and he crept around, and by and by he saw the horse switch his tail, and then Brer Rabbit knew he wasn’t dead. With that, Brer Rabbit loped back to the big road, and almost the first man he saw going by was Brer Fox.

Brer Rabbit, he took after him, and hollered, “Brer Fox! O Brer Fox! Come back! I’ve got some good news for you. Come back, Brer Fox,” he said.

Brer Fox, he turned around, he did, and when he saw who was calling him he came galloping back, because it seemed like this was just as good a time as any to nab Brer Rabbit. But before he got within nabbing distance, Brer Rabbit, he up and said, “Come on, Brer Fox! I just found the place where you can lay in fresh meat enough to last you plumb until the middle of next year,” he said.

Brer Fox, he asked where it was, and Brer Rabbit, he said, “Right over there in the pasture,” and Brer Fox asked what it was, and Brer Rabbit said it was a whole horse lying down on the ground where they could catch him and tie him up.

With that, Brer Fox said, “Come on,” and off they went.

When they got there, sure enough, they lay the horse all stretched out in the sun fast asleep, and then Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit had a dispute about how they were going to fix the horse so he could not get loose. One said one way and the other said another way, and so it was until after a while Brer Rabbit said, “The only plan I can think of, Brer Fox, is for you to go down there and let me tie you to the horse’s tail,” he said. “If I were a big man like you are,” said Brer Rabbit, “you could tie me to the horse’s tail, and if I didn’t hold him down, then Joe’s dead and Sal’s a widow. I just know that you can hold him down,” said Brer Rabbit. “But if you are afraid, we had just better drop this idea and study out some other plan,” he said.

Brer Fox was sort of dubious about this, but it pleased him to play biggity in front of Brer Rabbit, and he agreed to the plan. Then Brer Rabbit, he took and tied Brer Fox to the horse’s tail, and after he had him tied there hard and fast, he sort of stepped back, he did, and put his hands akimbo, and grinned, and then he said, “If there ever was a caught horse then it is this one that we caught. It sort of looks like we put the bridle on the wrong end.”

With that Brer Rabbit cut himself a long switch and trimmed it up. When he had it fixed, he stepped up and hit the horse a rap — pow! The horse was so surprised at this that he made one jump and landed on his feet. When he did that, there was Brer Fox dangling in the air.

Brer Rabbit, he darted out of the way and hollered, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down! I’ll stand out here and not get in your way. Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down!”

Of course, when the horse felt Brer Fox hanging there on his tail, he thought something was the matter, and this made him jump and rear worse and worse, and he shook up Brer Fox just like he was a rag in the wind, and Brer Rabbit, he jumped and hollered, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down! You’ve got him now! Hold your grip, and hold him down!” he said.

The horse, he jumped ,and he jumped, and he ripped, and he reared, and he snorted, and he tore. But Brer Fox kept hanging on, and Brer Rabbit kept skipping around hollering, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! You’ve got him where he can’t get away. Hold him down, Brer Fox!” he said.

By and by, when Brer Fox got the chance, he hollered back, he did, “How in the name of goodness am I going to hold the horse down unless I get my claws in the ground?”

Then Brer Rabbit, he stood back a little further and hollered a little louder, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down! You’ve got him now! Hold him down!”

By and by the horse began to kick with his hind legs, and the first thing you know, he fetched Brer Fox a lick in the stomach that fairly made him squall, and then he kicked him again, and this time he broke Brer Fox loose, and sent him a-whirling; and Brer Rabbit, he kept on a-jumping around and hollering, “Hold him down, Brer Fox!”

“Did the fox get killed, Uncle Remus?” asked the little boy.

“He wasn’t exactly killed, honey,” replied the old man, “but he was next door to it. He was all broken up, and while he was getting well, it sort of came across his mind that Brer Rabbit had done and played a trick on him.”



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