by O Society August 30, 2019
If you’ve spent any time at all in a comments section anywhere on the interwebs, then no doubt you already realize the human tendency to label one another as “this” or “that,” and then give a canned talking-points laden response based on these labels assigned to us. Especially where politics or religion is concerned.
Thus the false dichotomy ever rears its tired worn-out head:
“False Dichotomy: This is where you say that there are only two choices, when actually there are more. For instance, you might say someone is either alive, or they’re dead, ignoring the fact they might be Dracula. Or you might say if someone’s not a Democrat, then they must be some sort of Republican, ignoring the very real possibility they could be Dracula.”
Now, what this means is if you want to label me a “Republican” or Democrat” and make me carry the baggage associated with this label, well… I got news for you Sunshine, I’m Frankenstein.
I do not “identify as” any of this stuff. I’m not a Communist or a Fascist. Not a Neoliberal or a Neoconservative. Not a Believer or an Atheist.
In the immortal words of Homey D Clown, “Homey don’t play that.”
So don’t try to clown me. Save us both the time and effort.
What then do we believe ’round here?
There is no “-ism” we subscribe to 100%. Not philosophically, economically, religiously, or politically. No identity derived from label-ism as it were.
Because humans are fallible. Every human ideology is therefore fallible too because humans came up with it whilest scratching our finite noggins pondering how it all works.
Looking at human history, is there some sort of statement we can make about this?
Yes. Here are a few:
First, anyone claiming to have the authority to make decisions over you and me and our lives needs to justify said authority. This is an attitude of skepticism. This is a fundamentally agnostic position. This is a belief in anti-authoritarianism.
“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
~ George Owell, 1984
Second, we recognize any source which may be useful, including the lowest of the low, to help all living things to be happy and healthy, to benefit, and adapt and survive. Such a position is enumerated by Sima Tan in the Historical Records:
“The Daojia enable the numinous essence within people to be concentrated and unified. In movement they are joined with the Formless, in tranquility they (provide) sufficiently for all living things. In deriving their techniques, they follow the grand compliances of the Yinyang specialists, select the best of the Ru and Mo specialists, and extract the essentials of the Ming and Fa specialists. They shift (their policies) in accordance with the seasons and respond to the transformations of things. In establishing customs and promulgating policies, they do nothing unsuitable. Their tenets are concise and easy to grasp; their policies are few but their achievements are many.”
Unlike the other Jia, Sima Tan enumerates no shortcomings or defects of Daojia (“Dao-specialists”?), partially, no doubt, because it incorporates the best parts of the others.
“The Daojia do nothing, but they also say nothing is left undone. Their substance is easy to practice, but their words are difficult to understand. Their techniques take emptiness and nothingness as the foundation and adaptation and compliance as the application. They have no set limits, no regular forms, and so are able to penetrate to the genuine basis of living things. Because they neither anticipate things nor linger over them, they are able to become the masters of all living things.
They have methods that are no methods: They take adapting to the seasons as their practice. They have limits that are no limits: They adapt to things by harmonizing with them. Therefore they say: The sage is not clever: The seasonal alternations are what the sage preserves. Emptiness is the constant in the Way. Adaptation is the guiding principle of the ruler.”
Third, there is an attitude of losing things manifested in an understanding unlearning much of what we think we already know can be more valuable than learning more. For example, a recognition losing our socially-conditioned “common sense” is at times the way to go.
“I prostrate to Gautama who through compassion taught the true doctrine, which leads to the relinquishing of all views.”