The great way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.
When rich speculators prosper
while farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn –
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 53, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
A Time for Fear? For Hope? For Both? For Neither?
Rich speculators prospering, while farmers lose their land. Government officials spending money on weapons, instead of cures. The upper class extravagant and irresponsible, while the poor have nowhere to turn. I can think of no better description for just how out of balance the whole world currently is. Some have argued, and I think quite rightly, this is the cause of the backlash resulting in Great Britain, with the Brexit vote, and in the United States, with the election of Donald Trump. The ruling elite have, so far, ignored Lao Tzu’s warnings to be aware when things are out of balance. How very different things would be in our world if the powerful would center themselves, and stay centered, within the Tao.
Lao Tzu has described it for us before. The whole world would be transformed, all by itself, into a paradise. This would be the natural result. But, while the great way is easy (yes, it really is), people (especially, it seems, the ruling elite) prefer the side paths.
What we can all see, so plainly, all around us is what Lao Tzu aptly refers to as robbery and chaos. It didn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. It isn’t in keeping with the Tao.
How do we turn things around? Is the election of Donald Trump a turning point?
Here, I want to dish out a dose of philosophical Taoism that is for myself, as much for any of my readers. Both hope and fear are phantoms. They aren’t real. I needed to say that. I needed to hear myself say that. I needed some reminding.
I posted an interview, on my tumblr blog, early on Thursday morning, by Dennis Bernstein of Consortium News with John Pilger. I like John Pilger. He is a real journalist in an age where real journalists seem practically non-existent. And in the interview, he expressed wonder that US foreign policy hadn’t already resulted in his and all of our demise. He is particularly fearful of the threat of world-wide nuclear war, since we seem to be doing our darnedest to antagonize both Russia and China, and provoke one or the other, or both, into firing the first shot; unless we get tired of waiting, and beat them to the punch.
We seem to have good reason to fear. But, what about hope?
Later in the morning, I posted an article by Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com. He is very hopeful about Trump’s revolution and lays out what he perceives as the road to freedom. He downplayed any external threats (like from Russia or China), and said the real danger is right here at home. Can’t argue with him on who our real enemy is. But, he is hopeful.
As for me, I have to take fear and hope as the phantoms they are. I will have to wait and see what transpires. Make sure I stay centered in the Tao. Shape events as they come. And, advise all of you, my friends, to do likewise.