Saturday, December 31, 2016

A sample of the Tao Te Ching, Ellen M. Chen, 1989

Oh the Tao, so deep.
I am reading the tao te ching, learning I have known these things,
astounded at the coherence and beauty of these things.

From knowing to not knowing,
This is superior.
From not knowing to knowing,
This is sickness.

One who is courageous out of daring is killed.
One who is courageous out of not daring lives.

the way of heaven:
Without contending, it is yet good at winning,
Without speaking, it is yet good in responding,
Without being beckoned, it yet comes of its own accord,
Unhurried, it is yet good at planning.
The net of heaven is vast,
Widely spaced, yet missing nothing.

Therefor the sage knows himself,
But does not see himself.
He loves himself,
But does not exalt himself.

The way of heaven ,
Is it not like stretching a bow?
What is high up is pressed down,
What is low down is lifted up;
What has surplus is reduced,
What is deficient is supplemented

The way of heaven, It reduces those who have surpluses,
To supplement those who are deficient.
The human way is just not so.
It reduces those who are deficient,
To offer [to] those who have surpluses.
Who can offer his surpluses to the world?
Only a person of Tao.

Therefor the sage works without holding on to,
Accomplishes without claiming credit.
Is it not because he does not want to show off his merits?

This is a sample. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

They called us Elitist, and we acted the part.



We – if you didn't feel disoriented after Trump's election you won't feel included in this "we" – are listening now to people who don't feel their survival depends upon the survival of all of all of humanity, who accept their privilege as a right condition of human relations, who see themselves as being in competition with other human beings to have their needs met, who feel forgotten by us, who neglected them. I don't expect every Trump supporter to accept these characterizations. But we are guilty as charged. We forgot a significant number of Americans because they lived in "red" states, listened to Rush Limbaugh, like to drive big trucks, and work in oil fields. There is a large segment of the American populace whose interests we defend, but they didn't get the word. And we didn't reach out to them.


It's true, if the Democratic party  had not been corrupt, we might have had Bernie, and if we had, some of these disaffected Americans who voted for Trump might have voted for Bernie, and he would be president. I'm not letting the Democrats off the hook, by saying we failed to listen. The democrats absolutely failed to listen, and I'm including myself in the mistake they made, that progressives could ignore the disaffected masses and get away with it. And I think I am not alone. I'll bet you made that mistake too.


We are listening now because enough of them there were to elect a President who channels their fear, their anger, their sense of loss and need to be considered in the affairs of the nation. We are listening now because we were so disconnected from them and their needs that when their candidate won it shocked us, and set us back. Because we were too comfortable in our cozy little bubble of self-righteous "inclusivity". Except we forgot to include them. Now we are wondering, "Who are they?".  


So now, in our shock, we are re-grouping. We are looking for allies and preparing our defenses. We are thinking about the damage a Trump administration is likely to do for our agenda. We are gearing up to resist and obfuscate, to do to him what the Republicans did to the Obama administration. We are preparing for strikes and protests, we are hunkering down in our mountain lairs, preparing sneak attacks on their convoys. We are getting ready for guerilla politics, because that is what the group out of power does. We are re-counting our resources and allies, re-formulating our strategies, getting ready the political IEDs we will need to stop the onslaught of dangerous new policy. We are thinking about how to protect our prior gains, and how to avoid new losses.


Thus we are on two tracks. We vote culturally and with our politics for diversity and inclusion, but we forgot to vote the interests of our brothers and sisters who live, feeling ignored by the system that deprecates their white privilege, in desperate downward mobility. We ignored them, because we thought they were wrong and we were right. And this, we learn, is wrong. We need to own our elitism and stupidity. It's nice to win, as we did when Obama won, but then someone else loses, and scapes the winner. We need to do what their politics reject: we need to share. We need to take account of the humanity of even those whose values we deplore. We must ensure that  everyone wins equally. We must ensure that the needs of everyone are on the table, and that government policy is good for them too. Then there will be no need for bigotry.


The  other track is the obvious need to defend civil liberties, democracy, equal opportunity, protection of minority communities, and the sharing of prosperity. We must protect, as best we can, the sense of a shared humanity. Indeed, we must remind OURSELVES of a shared humanity.