So, the vote happened and the Leave camp won by a very narrow margin. Speaking as someone who was in the remain camp, it’s a disappointment but at this stage we simply have to accept what is done is done. Taoism does help a lot with accepting things that we can’t control; with accepting situations that we didn’t choose. It will, I believe, be quite useful in the coming months and years. “Things are as they are”, that’s a phrase from the Tao of Pooh that’s very relevant to this situation and especially to the notion of a second referendum.
Let’s be honest, on the face of things the stream has flowed on past that. At this point a second referendum would simply muddy waters that are already far from calm. We’ve burned our bridges and what’s done is, I’m sorry to say, done. I’ve already decided that I won’t sign the petition on that principle. We need to move on, the decision now is how to protect the principles we care about in a post BrExit Britain.
The future? Well, we’re already being revalued and I think we can expect our national deficit and debt to come under scrutiny. I strongly suspect that the coming years are not going to be entirely kind. I’m presently watching the Irish situation nervously and doubt I’m the only one. I’m also remembering that the global financial system is very interconnected; the unforeseen consequences could be nasty here. Could we find ourselves being a scapegoat for another global recession? As I write, the UK has recently lost its triple A rating with one global credit agency. Things have now gone a long way beyond fixing with a second vote, I suspect a good many things are now our of our hands..
In my opinion the key thing here is that everyone simply and calmly accept the fact that this is where we are; there’s no going back, we burned that bridge. In the same way as the older people on the news saying they voted Leave because “we remember the old days”; those days are gone and will not be returning. Our job now is to build a better future and the road is going to be more difficult than it needed to be. The blame game is one thing that must not be played.
There are a couple of Taoist stories I could use here that seem relevant, the one I will choose is the story of “The Lost Horse”
A man who lived on the northern frontier of China was skilled in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?” Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?” Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved to ride. One day he fell and broke his hip. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”
A year later the nomads came in force across the border, and every able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese frontiersmen lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other. Truly, blessing turns to disaster, and disaster to blessing: the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.
As we can see, what seems like a disaster can have a silver lining and what seems like good fortune may exact its own price. What is certain is we’ll see our ups and downs, blessings in disguise and also unexpected drawbacks. The road ahead is not going to be smooth, it’ll takes turns for the worse and for the better. What matters now is the attitude we meet those turns with.
We left Europe, what makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?
I was watching a video of a talk by the British Humanist philosopher AC Grayling recently. He spoke of Humanism as encouraging you to live for yourself. This did chime with my own Taoist / Buddhist views as the message I get from them is to attempt to be fully present in the moment and live according to your own reason. The Kalama Sutra makes this clear and any attempts to avoid this that I’ve seen boil down to a Theistic attempt to frighten people into agreeing with the speakers views, or those of their sect.
This got me thinking about Pascal’s Wager. This is a famous bit of thinking that attempts to make the case for believing in God. The idea is that God either exists, or does not; You can either believe or not. If you believe and God exists, then you’re saved; If not, then you’re no worse off than an Atheist. If you don’t believe and God exists, then you’re in some trouble; if not then you’re no better off than the Theist anyway.
There are a few problems with this. The whole question assumes that you have the right God, but how do Zeus or Odin feel about all this? It assumes you understand the nature of God properly, but surely an all loving God makes the wager irrelevant? It assumes the nature of an afterlife, but what about reincarnation? But, I think that there’s another story here; one of the poverty of the supposed victor.
The theist “wins” by worship and submission to the will of a God, and in loss is supposed to be no worse off than an Atheist. However, has the Theist ever really lived for their own reasons? They’ve lived for their God, for their faith; but never for themselves. So, if the Theist does win the wager, it’s a hollow victory. They won, not on their own choices or merits, but by blindly towing the line; who they were never really mattered. And in loss? The only life they had was thrown away living for someone else’s agenda. Not a wager I think I care for.
I’ve been spending a bit of my time on the Reddit website of late. There are a few subreddits that hold my attention, though in some subreddits the experience reminds me of when I held a much more stringent Atheist view than I currently do. I recall often seeing arguments, with people talking past each other heatedly, not really communicating. I’ve written before my blog restart about our beliefs being a map of the world, not the world itself; the tragedy being that many people seem to think the map is the world, with unhappy results. The subject of religion is something that really lends itself to this; also economics, with the laughable idea of unlimited growth on a limited planet.
As I read the arguments, my opinion deepened that the only thing that really matters is the Tao. Or, if you prefer, the view from the Tao. This comes to the pretty simple position that an argument or position that fails to accord with the Tao is destined to fail. The thing is, this leads to another point; yes, it’s possible for one party to be partly or wholly wrong. But it’s also possible for both sides of an argument to be partly or wholly wrong, the only thing that’s always in the right is the Tao. I can also see that there’s much to be said for holding to simple views and positions, it’s far harder to get yourself tied in mental knots. I note that in Taoism and Buddhism, the positions I’ve seen are usually simple; in my experience things get the “it’s more complex than that” treatment right before the evasions start. I’ve found though, there’s little point arguing with the people who hold these complex and idealogical views, often the best thing to do is simply get out of the way and do something more positive with your energies!