The Bitterling and the Mussel

The Bitterling and the Mussel

The English bitterling is a fish. The swan mussel is a mollusk which lives in a shell like a clam. The swan mussel opens the two halves of its shell and catches the food that may drift its way. If you should be inquisitive enough to see what the swan mussel would do if you put your finger between the two halves of the shell, you would have reason to regret it, for it would pinch and cause you great pain.

The English bitterling and the swan mussel both live in the sea. They are two creatures that are very different from each other. They do not resemble one another in the least. The swan mussel is a sort of shapeless creature like an oyster, can never leave its shell, and has no fins with which to swim. But the English bitterling is graceful, has scales that glitter, and darts through the water with lightning speed.

Although these two are so very different in appearance and in the way in which they live, they are very friendly to each other and have formed a partnership which works for the advantage of both. The English bitterling has a problem and so has the swan mussel. Their partnership solved both of their problems. When the English bitterling lays its eggs other fish eat them. This was a real problem. But the swan mussel, too, has a problem. It has no feet to walk and no fins with which to swim. This meant that he and others of his kind could not spread out to different parts of the ocean. They would all have to live together and perhaps there would not be enough food for all of them. So this too was a real problem.

Then the English bitterling and the swan mussel went into partnership. The mussel opens its shell wide and allows the bitterling to lay eggs in its gill folds. At the same time the mussel sends out many baby mussels which attach themselves to the scales of the fish by means of tiny hooks. The bitterling swims away to other parts of the sea and the tiny mussels hold on until they are ready to let go. This is the way the mussels get to distant places in the sea. In this partnership the mussel keeps the fish's eggs not only until they are hatched but until the baby fish are able to take care of themselves. This is a strange partnership between the English bitterling and the swan mussel who are so different in every way. These two have an arrangement whereby the one does for the other what the other cannot do for itself.

If two creatures so very different in every way can be friendly and help each other, certainly people who are so very much alike ought not quarrel but help one another and live in friendliness. People everywhere are much the same. Their bodies are alike, they have the same joys, the same sorrows and the same problems. But there is always something that we can do for someone which he cannot do for himself.

Sometimes you have a problem. There is an answer to every problem but you do not know the answer to your problem. Someone, however, has the answer. Find that person and he will be glad to help you. Someone else has difficulty. Perhaps you are the one to help him.

When someone is discouraged and feels blue, you have something to give him; give him your friendship and your smile. Some day he will be ready to give you what you need. Perhaps you do not have a very strong religion. Read what others have said about God and Jesus Christ. They can help you get the right kind of religion which you cannot get for yourself. When we sing and pray together in Church we help each other and do for one another what none could do for himself alone.

All other people can help us. Indians can teach us bravery, the Negro courage, the Chinese and Japanese courtesy, the Greek beauty, the Turk courage, the English tenacity, the German loyalty and the Dutch cleanliness. We can all help and learn from one another. It is much easier to help each other than to quarrel. If the English bitterling and the swan mussel who are so very different can do for the other what the other cannot do for himself then certainly there is much that we can give and do for one another.

| More