The Limits of Our Power

I have to admit, when I started to write this brief piece on the limits of our power I was thinking more about Government power, but I think this can go a little beyond that. One of the things that has always bemused me ever since I started leaning about Taoism is the motivational poster. The whole “I can touch the sky”, “you can do anything if you believe it” thing seems to me to be fairly suspect. One of the things that has been repeatedly impressed on me through Taoism, but also through my time practising Tai Chi, is a recognition and respect for the limitations of your body and mind. By all means strive to achieve something, but remember that you’re only Human. As the Tao Te Ching so sagely advises us:

Sparse speech is natural
Thus strong wind does not last all morning
Sudden rain does not last all day
What makes this so? Heaven and Earth
Even Heaven and Earth cannot make it last
How can humans?[1]

This doesn’t just apply to us as individuals. The reports in the UK media regarding the ongoing storms show many affected areas and their local communities in absolutely dire straits. One resident is reported as commenting that she no longer remembered what normal was. It’s not really surprising that anger is now being channelled towards the Government. That’s quite understandable, they were supposed to have the residents covered and they let them down badly. The comment I think needs making, especially with regard to the Government response and it’s “inadequacy” is directly drawn from the above line of thinking. Whatever else they are, the authorities are only Human. Resources, manpower, money; these things are limited, even for the government. With the onset of Global Warming, we are going to have to face the truth, our resources are highly likely to be inadequate to the task of managing things. Although it doesn’t suit many people to admit it, especially politicians.


[1] and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths in 2006.

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