The parable of the poisoned arrow

Another parable from Buddhist thought, this one central to understanding how the task of liberation is not the same as understanding samsara. 

“Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first... Life is short, [endless metaphysical speculation] will not bring you closer to the truth.”

Source: Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Keys

While this analogy illuminates the benefit to the individual, a related metaphor drives home the urgency to do so, not just for oneself but also for the sake of the world.

If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must [first] put the fire out.

Source: Thich Nhat Hanh

By this logic, we can understand the gears of civilisation as our collective environment that shapes and drives us, arsonist and victim both. To fix the world, one has only a few options: bringing every arsonist in the land to justice, or bringing oneself to liberation. If enough people do, then the collective environment will slowly but surely transform. An optimistic pay-it-forward arrangement, with faint echoes of Gandhi's famous line: "Be the change you want to see in the world."