There was once a boy named Nikolai who sometimes felt uncertain about the right way to act. "I want to be a good person...but I don't always know the best way to do that." So writes Jon J. Muth in a retelling of a story by Leo Tolstoy: The Three Questions.
When is the best time to do things?
Who is the most important one?
What is the right thing to do?
These are important questions. Ones we might ask of ourselves everyday. Ones we might ask of our friends and our neighbors and faith leaders and our politicians. Because this is a picture book for children the little boy asks his friends the animals - a crane, a monkey, and a dog.
And his friends give him answers based on their own experiences. To know the best time one must plan and pay attention. The most important one is the one closest to heaven or who makes the rules or who heals the sick. The right thing to do is doing what pleases you or benefits your kind. These are the kind of answers we often teach to our children and they are good answers, but they are not perfect ones, because they do not allow our children to be all that they can be nor do they lead us to a better world.
The little boy in the story goes to visit his friend the old turtle. The turtle is digging his garden. The boy sees the turtle is tired and helps him finish. A storm comes up and the boy rescues a panda and its baby crying for help. When the boy finally asks his questions the turtle says - "But your questions have been answered!"
The most important time is now.
The most important one is the one you are with.
The most important thing is to do good for the one you are with.
Imagine if everyone in the world followed these three axioms:- If we lived in the now and forgot past hurts, old bigotry, and old ways of behaving, but did what needed to be done NOW. - If we honored the person with whom we live and work regardless of whether we liked them or not or knew them or not and discovered what they need NOW. If we followed the Golden Rule and did for others, what we wish others would do for us NOW.
That is the path to world peace...