Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Living Dao in An Age of Tyranny II

Scott Bradley


There is only one comment I wish to make here regarding the political situation in the world today, as I see it: We all already live in police states which enforce the will of the plutocrats. We see it everywhere. We saw it in the London Olympics. For the most part we do not recognize this because, apart from bashing in a few heads here and there, it has yet to become necessary to take the gloves off; but that time is probably not far off. Unfortunately, we are very much like the frog and the heated pot; throw him in, and he'll jump out; bring him to a slow boil and he'll never realize what's happening until it's too late. Is it too late?

How should we respond? There really is no one 'should'. But, as I said in the previous post, from the perspective of philosophical Daoism, our first and most essential task is to realize freedom from our own inner tyrannies. If the prospect or fact of actual tyranny tyrannizes us, then tyranny rules where it need not. Free of that, one can retreat to the hills or die at the barricades according to one's preference. Yet, for those who think activism is morally necessary, even this 'spiritual' prerequisite is irresponsible if pursued prior to activism. Again, I have no reply beyond, "Do as you think best."

For my part, I try to follow the advice of the Zhuangzi: "Let go of the world." When we realize that nothing pertaining to human history or its future, or, indeed, the survival of the planet itself, is of any great importance, we are free; and being free, we are free to truly engage in their preservation. The preservation of earth and humanity are of no cosmic significance; these are hard words indeed. Yet, I believe they are informed by the view from Dao. All is well.

I have said "I try to...let go of the world." Were I able to do so, I probably wouldn't be writing this post, or any other. When men and women in black and with guns on their hips stop me miles inside the U.S./Mexican border and ask me where I'm going, why I'm going there, and what's in that container, it upsets me. All these posts are simply me wrestling with my own tyrannies.

Now might be a good time to dust off the teachings of the much maligned Yang Chou, who made the preservation of one's life, physical and spiritual, of the highest priority. Refuse to answer the men in black and they taser you. Expose government maleficence, and you are accused of rape, going to kiddie-porn websites, or put on the no-fly list. Perhaps the best policy is to respond as would the fabricated 'terrorists' this tyranny pretends to be protecting us from: "Yes, Ma'am. No, Sir. Thanks for keeping us safe. You're all heroes."

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

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