I recently spent a little time reading an article in a British newspaper called “The Independent”, the article makes the argument that we’re not in a “Post Truth World” but in an age of lies. I read the article and on reflection, I have a small comment I’d like to make on this subject.
Our opinions and views of the world are, as I’ve said before, simply a map to our understanding of the world. They’re not the world itself and aren’t always inaccurate. I’ve said this about religion before, but it’s as accurate to say it about politics. So it is with the process of BrExit, things were said and opinions given and it’s turning out that the final say in this is not with the people who did the saying and giving. Indeed this past week saw the departure of the UK Ambassador to the EU and the disclosure that only people who have positive things to say about BrExit are allowing to see the minister in charge of our BrExit. This isn’t a good sign. What if after hitting the iceberg, the captain of the Titanic had only allowed people into his presence who had good things to say about the state of his ship? We’ve all watched the election of Donald Trump, though I watched it without much surprise. I’ve been following The Archdruid Report for many months and his explanation of Trumps appeal made sense. But after doing some reading, I’ve no faith in him either and it seems that our “Post Truth World” is looking more like a “World of Delusion”.
So many things have been promised, 400,000 post BrExit jobs, £350 million for the NHS, a wall along the Mexican Border paid for by Mexico, and it’s not the people who are making the promises that have the final say in whether or not these things are possible. The story seems depressingly similar with the issue of Climate Change. The incoming US administration doesn’t seem to want to know, doesn’t want it to be true. Once again, the final word in this does not belong to any Human agency on either side of this argument. It belongs to the Earth, the situation is what it is regardless of Human opinions. The Archdruid’s opinions seem similar to my own on this, that things are now unfolding as they will and we’ve been reduced to spectators; we’re just along for the ride now. My own view is that this will be our humbling and it’ll happen no matter what our opinions are on the matter.
So, how does this tie in with my usual angle on things? Simple. If we’re wise, we try in our Human and imperfect way to work with the nature (Tao) of what’s in front of them. This needs a willingness to recognise our own denial and to call bullshit for what it is, we need to accept that “things are as they are” and that “it is what it is”. It’ll mean losing a lot of ego as we realise that we’re very often not getting the final say in events, very often all we’ll be doing is trying to mitigate events that we’ve no hope of controlling.
I must be honest and I’ve gotten moaned at for saying this sort of thing before. The processes of Climate Chance are as much part of the Tao as anything else; in this case the Tao of “This Is What Happens When You Use The Biosphere As An Open Sewer For Decades On End.” On the political front, I can confidently predict that we’re going to see upsets for the people who think we can have everything we want. I think it’s going to be more a case of us needing to cut our cloth to increasingly difficult times.
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?
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.
 www.Taoism.net and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths in 2006.
Well, let me begin by wishing everyone a belated Happy New Year.
Many moons ago, when I first started a Taoist themed blog on Blogger I wanted something fitting as a title. Water is a classic Taoist metaphor and the idea of a serenely moving depth was attractive. So the blog got its name and the name stuck across two blogging sites and finally, this domain. The thing is, water is a perfect description of Taoism. It always moves at the natural speed for the situation; it finds its way around obstacles effortlessly; it is yielding and pliant, but devastating and irresistible. Given time it will wash away even the hardest of stones.
Of course, water is nothing like as spiritual and attractive when you’re flooded out. It’s been a trying Christmas and New Year for many people in the United Kingdom, the news from the affected areas of the UK is not good. If the weather report is to be believed, worse is on the way too. I can only see this as the next piece of the end result of Humanities distinct unwillingness to observe the Tao that surrounds it. What shouldn’t really have surprised me, but did, was the willingness of the supporters of the Status Quo to seemingly fiddle while Rome burned. I can only send my best wishes and keep those affected in my thoughts.