This morning I head out for my daily five-mile walk with God. About 3.0 miles in I see a huge turtle walking along a concrete path under a roadway. The path links two sections of the Greenway and Lytle Creek. At this point in my walk I am usually in love with everything, and here is this fat old turtle totally exposed to predators and I am convinced that she (he?) needs my help. My plan is to tap on her shell, and when she withdraws inside, to pick her up and carry her to the water on the side toward which she is walking.
This is my version of a boy scout helping an old lady to cross a street.
This act of pure love for my fellow manifestation of the Divine Mother was met with a vicious turn: the turtle attacked me! This huge mouth opened wide and the turtle lunged at me. True it took her an hour to turn around and do this, but it was shocking nonetheless.
Anyway, I backed off, apologized for the interruption, and walked on by. This was a teaching moment, and the tortoise taught me the difference between Rabbis Hillel and Jesus versions of the Golden Rule.
Hillel taught, “Don’t do unto others what you do not want others to do to you.” Jesus taught, “Do unto others what you would want done unto you.” I assumed that I would like someone to pick me up and move me along my path, and therefore so would my turtle friend. But when I think about it, I wouldn’t like this at all.
Just imagine: you are walking along enjoying the fall foliage (or dying leaves, depending on your mood), and suddenly some giant reaches down, grabs you around the waist, and carries you along dangling in mid-air. Doesn’t sound so good. Yet this is precisely what I wanted to do with the turtle.
Next time I see a turtle ambling along I will just let her be, and if she is attacked by some carnivore along the way and brutally torn to pieces and eaten, I will simply smile and say, “Serves you right for trying to bite me, you reptilian brained moron.”