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Encircling those in need with protection and care

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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Scattered thinly across the arctic tundra of Greenland and a handful of other forbidding, far-north locales, small herds of musk ox are making a comeback after teetering near extinction some decades ago. Their peril, unsurprisingly, was from over-hunting by humans, a practice now largely banned. But not much else is a threat. Not the harsh winters. Generally, not even their main predator, the arctic wolf. That's due to a system of defense from which the rest of us can learn. Their code of survival is not "Every man - or musk ox - for himself!" It's very much the opposite. Their action sings with care for one another.

When an arctic wolf is on the hunt, what's the musk ox response? The bulls and the larger cows stand shoulder to shoulder, encircling those most vulnerable, those most in need of protection, those that the wolf might most easily target. They're not left out in the cold to fend for themselves. Not for a moment. They're ensconced in the center of the circle. Surrounded by a sure defense that marshals the strength of every strong member of the herd.

That pattern in nature is one we've seen repeated by humanity countless times over the past week. Yes, horrifying images have flooded our television sets, our newspapers, and the Internet. But, increasingly, images and stories come through of almost unimaginable courage and heroism to reach and protect them. Firemen who put themselves at enormous risk as they got additional hundreds of office workers to safety. Or rescue workers, also at great personal risk, digging through the rubble hours and days after the initial tragedy and finding victims alive.

Or people like Tom Burnett, Jeremy Glick, and Mark Bingham. These passengers - along with the help of other passengers - on United Airlines flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania, apparently rushed the hijackers, thwarting them from crashing the plane into its intended target. Who knows how many hundreds or thousands of lives were saved.

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