Tragic Story From My Hometown

He who stands on tiptoe,
doesn’t stand firm.
He who rushes ahead,
doesn’t go far.
He who tries to shine,
dims his own light.
He who defends himself,
can’t know who he really is.
He who has power over others,
can’t empower himself.
He who clings to his own work,
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 24, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Honestly, I don’t know what to say in commentary for today’s chapter. I have been thinking about a recent tragic story from my hometown of Willow Springs, Missouri. Willow Springs is a small town, population 2000 some odd people. And the tragic story involves a man, who I didn’t know, who is now in the county jail with a million dollar bond. This man thought it was acceptable behavior to beat young children living in his household with his belt, whenever their behavior didn’t meet with his exacting standards. We are talking about children under the age of 2. Though personally, I don’t think it is acceptable to beat children, whatever their ages. How long he had been engaging in this behavior, I don’t know. But a few days ago, a child under the age of two died at his hands. The child’s crime was apparently that he pissed himself. And that capital offense set the man off. How can I make sense of this? I can’t. All I can hope is that a whole lot of people in Willow Springs are thinking better of beating their own children right now.

This tragic story has little to do with today’s chapter. Or, maybe it has everything to do with today’s chapter. I know this miserable excuse for a human being had power over little children. But he couldn’t empower himself. He didn’t have a clue about the eternal reality. He wasn’t living in accord with the Tao.

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