Chinese Year of the Rabbit and Biomimicry

Learning Values from the Animals and Start Making Changes for a God Blessed New Year 2011
I mentioned Biomimicry in my last post, Eat, Drink & Enjoy - A Reflection on Sunday's Chinese New Year Message. It was an extreme way of looking at Biomimicry in medicines and health. It was about eating the right animal organs to supplement the corresponding human organ's function. The generally accepted meaning of Biomimicry is learning and adopting the behavior of the living things into the human world for creating innovations that brings value, and especially in the area of creating a sustainable eco-systems.

The Chinese has, a long time ago, practiced this kind of Biomimicry - learning from the animal. It was wisely and widely diffused in the Chinese culture through of use Chinese Zodiac sign. Instead of teaching the less educated to learn to read, it is much easier to use signs, of animals, to tell about the year and time. 12 Animals are used with one for each year. Starting with rat, then ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, roster, dog and pig.  ( I recently got to know that the Vietnamese uses Cat in place of Rabbit). The behavior of the animal is used to characterize the fortune for the year (part of a more complex system of 5 elements, 10 heaven trunks and 12 earth branches and others) and also about the character of the person born in the year. The strengths and weaknesses of animal is an exhortation for the people. I think it is a pretty smart. It is a low-cost yet highly effective way of teaching moral values to the mass of people. Let me add that I don't believe in Zodiac signs, neither character based on Zodiac signs, nor any form of fortune telling. This post is about Biomimicry.

Learning from Rabbits - Watchfulness, Carefulness & Agility
What can we learn from Rabbits? I think it is their watchfulness(alertness), carefulness and agility. They are always scanning the environment (blessed with long large ears, far distance eye-sight, sensitive sense of smell, day and night vision), extremely cautious (a nice way of saying they are timid) , and agile with powerful hind legs for speed. When encountering attackers, they also warn others by stamping on the ground.

There are more in the Animal Signs. They are about balanced values, see my post on Complementary Values from Chinese Zodiac Signs.

Eagle - Vision
Our Bible also uses animals to teach us about behavior. The famous one that is preached frequently is about the Eagle*1. We are to learn from the Eagle about having higher vision, soaring higher, effortless flight through the air by riding on the air currents, rejuvenation of youth by breaking their peaks and pulling out their feathers, and the training of the young by dropping them from great height and enabling them to try to fly by themselves etc.

Other AnimalsThere are other animals covered in Prov 30:25-31 [There are some differences among the translations]
  1. The ants [are] a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
    Teaching: plans for the future. hardworkingness.
  2. The conies [are but] a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
    Teaching: audacity in overcoming adversity.
  3. The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
    Teaching: unity, communication, self-directed management
  4. The spider/lizard taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.
    Teaching: survivability, viral diffusion, globalization.
  5. A lion [which is] strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;
    Teaching: courage, strength, stately appearance,
  6. A greyhound/strutting rooster; hunting and strength for the hound and Leadership and consistency from the rooster.
  7. he-goat also;courageous executions
    (The lion, rooster, he-goat are named together with the King for their stateliness in v29 and I think that they stand for leadership)
Putting Them to Work
What can we learn from the above set of values from the animals? For the vision that you set for this coming new year, which values are most relevant to realizing the vision?

Knowing the relevant key values is just the first step. We must convert the values into policies and practices. We must refer to them when we make our decisions.

Let say we pick the Rabbit's agility, a very important value in today's rapid changing world, then we must put in place a system to scan the environment for changes in trends that are of importance to us. Furthermore, we must re-examine our ability to react to the change our situation. Are we assets light? Are our assets mobile or liquidable and be readily redeployable? Are there things in business, or emotional baggage in our private life, bad habits that tied us down and make us unresponsive?

Have a good reflection and start making changes for having a God blessed new year.

Note *1 We are encouraged to be like the Eagle and not the Hen. It is typical of common preachers to overstress the strength or usefulness of a particular thing. The truth is that we need to have both and the strength or weakness is dependent on the situation.

Lim Liat Copyrighted 2011

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