Sayings of a modern mystic who was down-on-his-luck
(more about the Yogi)

"Even a rat's got a job to do"

"Even a rat's got a job to do"


The building we live in (well, he used to live in) wasn't exactly The Ritz. We used to say that if the cockroaches stopped holding hands, the place would fall down.

We had lots of visitors from the better parts of town who would get all squeamish when, say, a rat ran across a rafter, or a cockroach scuttled under the hotplate.

The Yogi, though, seemed really comfortable with these "guests," like a sort of slum-dwelling Saint Francis. "Even a rat," he'd tell the offended parties, "has got a job to do."


There are two "big ideas" here. One is the interconnectedness of all things: rats (and roaches) are as important to the ecology as bunnies and butterflies.

The other is the idea of non-discrimination. To say, "Rats are bad, but hamsters are good," is to make a distinction based on these creatures' relationship to me. (Yes, I am mindful of the health issue--a separate one from this sort of learned disgust.) This aphorism cuts through all that by pointing out the role of scavengers (perhaps more important than that of pets!)

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1. Why are people attracted to bunnies and disgusted by rats?

2. Can you think of the "jobs" of other things, like mosquitoes, or influenza, or suffering?

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