Saturday, July 12, 2014

Justice is a beginning step on the path to experiencing the Tao

When a truly kind man does something, he leaves nothing undone. 
When a just man does something, he leaves a great deal to be done. 
When a disciplinarian does something and no one responds, 
He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt to enforce order. 
Therefore when Tao is lost, there is goodness. 
When goodness is lost, there is kindness. 
When kindness is lost, there is justice. 
When justice is lost, there ritual. 
Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion. 

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 28

When a person is kind and acts out of love, justice is not necessary, justice is not an issue. Unfortunately, people often act in other than loving ways because they want material things, power, or simply to have their own way because they egotistically think they are right. Justice is a very poor substitute for love, for kindness, but in the ego world of drama it is necessary to bring structure to unbridled, undisciplined desires.

However, when the disciplinarian, the enforcer, attempts to enforce the law, the effort is often resisted, avoided, even attacked, and the issue moves quickly from doing what is the right thing to winning in the contest between compliance and freedom to do as one wills. If the disciplinarian, the enforcer, fails to control the non compliers, we are left with ritual, an empty shell game extensively described in Franz Kafka's great novel, The Trial, where the innocent defendant finally, in exhausted desperation with the futility of the criminal justice system, kills himself. A living example today is the incarcerated human beings at Guantanamo who have been subjected to institutionalized ritual of containing "terrorism", and who have wound up killing themselves in high numbers.

When the Tao is lost, hopefully there is some goodness, meaning, I think, blessedness, and if goodness, blessedness, is lost, hopefully people will still be kind, and if they are no longer kind, let's hope that there is some justice, and if there is no justice which is where are at all too often today, we rely on rituals, going through the motions, paying lip service, and becoming spectators, as if we were watching the gladiatorial spectacles of ancient Rome, to the legal contests of our modern day "justice" system.

People have slowly grown cynically accustomed to the lack of justice especially when it comes to upper middle class, high class people, politicians, and corporations. Everyone knows that if you have money and power you can beat the system. Corruption in the U.S. especially in the financial industry and other high level corporate and governmental activities is prevalent. Lobbyists, working for the corporations, and those with large financial interests, write the laws and regulations of the country, and most Senators and congresspeople are financed by vested interests who expect, not what is best for the people and the country, but what is best for those who spend money to put these politicians in office. This system of "pay to play" has only gotten worse with recent Supreme Court rulings that have held that money is speech and those with money get to talk more about what they want to have happen in our democracy than poor people.

Poor people know that the deck is stacked against them, and that the trappings of our democracy are pretty much empty ritual. There not only is no Tao, or goodness, or kindness, there is no justice, but only ritual, and as the Tao says, this brings confusion.

Confusion brings fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and feelings of futility and defeat. "You can't fight city hall," as the old expression goes. An yet Mother Teresa said, "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." 

Can justice be restored person to person? Yes, and restorative justice is a way. Can kindness be restored person to person? Yes, start with the next person you encounter today. Can goodness be restored? Yes, learn how to pray and develop a sense of reverence and gratitude, and if you do these things you will become one with the Tao.

1 comment:

  1. This essay articulates profound thoughts for which I am grateful.

    Special monied interests increasingly run our democracy and increasingly the 99% have lost, or are losing, their voice. It has turned democracy into a ritual as is mentioned in the article where voting is between two choices neither of which are in the 99%'s interests and so voting has become a ritual empty of any legitimate interest because the system has been captured by those in power to protect their interests and does not meet the standard for a just society.

    It's a wonder than more people, who have become increasingly marginalized, have not objected and rebelled but they are sated with cheap material goods from the Walmarts of the world, and distracted with sporting entertainment akin to the Roman circuses of old, bread and circuses while Rome is burning.

    Where is justice in the midst of oppression and bread and circuses? Justice is what the people in power say it is and as the Tao Te Ching says, it has become ritual; it is not true justice only a counterfeit version that substitutes for the real thing, and the people become either cynical, or confused and depressed and alter their mood with materialism and increasingly venal entertainments.

    Unitarian Universalism has missed the boat on these systemic dysfunctional dynamics as have most religions in America today, and they do not seem relevant to the American people who are confused about what is being done to them, and church attendance is dropping rapidly as it has in Europe. In this confusion, teachings from the religions are missing the mark. They do not resonate with the contemporary lived experience. They are unable or unwilling to elucidate the truth about the dynamics of our current society and world. Even the "religious right" of the George W. Bush era is losing steam as it's endemic impotence to heal our communal problems with power and money becomes increasingly apparent.

    UUs mouth the words in their second principle but this too has become ritual as most UUs as they mouth the words do not know that of which they speak and participate willingly in a rigged system full of disingenuous rituals that they seem to be obliviously unaware of.

    This essay, I wrote at the beginning, is profound in it implications and clarity, but is questionable whether most people can comprehend its main points. At any rate, thank you very much.