Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 100

from Verse One Hundred
When laws proliferate ostentatiously, there are many bandits and rebels.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
Let's examine this passage by dropping it down a notch or two from the laws of nations to the rules of parents.

In my experience as a social worker -- I have no experience whatsoever as a parent -- I noticed that the households with a rule for everything tended to be the same households in which there were "problem" children. The kids felt hemmed in and were always trying to devise schemes and strategies to skirt the rules. When they succeeded, it only made them feel more emboldened. When they failed, the punishments meted out often far exceeded the "crime" and only made the children more determined to hatch better schemes!

In homes in which the children are granted greater independence to develop at their own pace, there is far less scheming. This is not to suggest that such homes don't have rules -- they do -- but they aren't excessive and as punitive.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. Or: it might be that in families with problem children, the parents feel they must come up with more rules and more dire punishments, but these inevitably fail in reforming said children, whereas when the children are naturally "good", fewer rules and less punishment are necessary.

    Just another possibility.

  2. CB,
    That could be an explanation IF one believes that some children are born to be "bad". However, if one believes children are born with a clean slate, then what creates the problem in the first place?

  3. One may deal with fantasy, or with reality.
    One may busy oneself cleaning up the faeces from the floor, and try to ensure that this will not be an ongoing problem, or one may prefer to disappear up one's own darkest recesses.

    The idea that if there are no rules, then there will be no problems, is one that most people discard in adolescence.

    The crow observes.

  4. Crow,
    I don't understand your point in light of the passage for this post. The passage did not say there should be no rules; it merely made the observation that too many rules is counterproductive.

  5. Hehe.
    I often don't understand your points, either, RT.
    The passage itself, I agree with.

    Your response to Cloudberry, in the context of your well-known leftist views, caused me to respond as I did.
    You often make points based upon "what-ifs" as opposed to "what is".
    The notion that children are always blameless until adults mess them up does not wash with me.
    Even if it did, one would still have to deal with the reality, not the fantasy.
    Children can be very bad simply because they are children: they don't know enough - yet - to be otherwise.

    One look at the UK would show most people that too many laws are counterproductive.
    But I subscribe to the rule of law.
    And there's the rub...

  6. Crow,
    I've noticed that you view almost everything in a left or right light. I didn't realize that viewing the beginning phase of a human life as a blank canvass was a "leftist" concept. Since Lao Tzu views children this way, I suppose in your eyes he's a leftist too?

    You often make points based upon "what-ifs" as opposed to "what is".

    In this instance, I didn't reference any hypotheticals. I wrote of my observations and experiences as a social worker.

  7. When you, yourself, say things like: "we on the left", one can hardly fail to see what you write, as other than a leftist view.
    Lao Tzu is not a leftist in my view. If he was, I wouldn't revere him so.
    He is a leftist in your view.
    You often use his words to validate your way of looking at things.
    RT: you never did explain your claim that Lao Tzu probably never existed.

    Please, let's not get into another sniping match.
    Often I don't care for what you write, you often don't care for how I respond.
    But my responses show that I am interested enough to read what you write very carefully.

  8. When you, yourself, say things like: "we on the left", one can hardly fail to see what you write, as other than a leftist view.

    But Crow, that's painting the world solely as black and white! Yes, I'm a self-identified leftist; that doesn't mean that EVERY opinion of mine is left.

    Lao Tzu is not a leftist in my view. If he was, I wouldn't revere him so.

    Personally, I don't view Lao Tzu as left or right. My comment was made because you seem to suggest that seeing a baby as a blank canvass is a "leftist" view and this is the way a baby is viewed in the writings of the Taoist classics.

    RT: you never did explain your claim that Lao Tzu probably never existed.

    Lao Tzu means "Old master" -- not very descriptive of a specific person. There is no historical evidence to suggest he existed. It's more likely that he is a mythic figure and the writings attributed to him were from a generalized school of thought.

    Even if he did exist, most scholars believe he wrote very little of the texts attributed to his name.

  9. Well that's not a bad answer.
    Thank you for indulging me, RT.

    Can you see the absurdity, though, of dedicating an entire blog to the writings of a man who you believe never existed, and who probably didn't write them?

    Absurdity isn't quite the right word.
    Python-esque might be better.
    The very nature of the blog is an excercise in abstraction...

    "The man we are here to discuss, didn't actually exist, and so the words we are discussing don't exist either. But we will discuss them anyway, as if he did exist, and as if he did write them."

    Now that's abstract!

  10. I don't view it as absurd in the least. Me thinks you're placing too much import on identity. Who cares who wrote it? It still resonates.

    Some scholars believe that Shakespeare didn't write all of the works attributed to his name. Should we then throw out those of which we're unsure of?

    Most of the books in the Jewish & Christian bibles weren't written by their supposed authors. Should people throw them away based on this notion?

    The identity of the authors of works of antiquity isn't what matters. It's the thought behind it. If something rings true, it shouldn't matter if it was written by a mythic sage or a monkey.

  11. I love the tao te ching.
    I base my life upon its teachings.
    I like the idea of giving credit where credit is due.
    I tend to compliment people.
    Not for how it might make me appear: but because I like to do it.
    If you choose to believe there was no Lao Tzu, that's fine with me.

    Scientists begin being scientists with the view there is no God.
    Later, as is happening now, in the realm of Quantum Physics, they announce that they are discovering that the universe itself is made up of pure consciousness.

    Like - wow - we have discovered that there may be this thing that is very much like that old legend about God...
    It is certainly beginning to look that way.

  12. Well..., I live in Paraguay, what can I say... that verse is just PERFECT.


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