Have you been reading some of the news items I’ve been seeing? Politics in the United States have deteriorated to the point where a large and growing proportion of partisans actually hate people who don’t share their views.
A large part (though not all) of the population in the United States, and the West more generally, is gripped in a crisis of faith. Not so much faith in God, Buddha or Krishna, although religion isn’t what it used to be. Nor faith in the state, although that’s waning too. If anything, we probably put too much faith in it.
Nope. We’ve lost faith in each other.
It’s no wonder. When news outlets and social media posters tell you, over and over, that some “others” are out to get you, it’s easy to feel paranoid.
In that kind of world, everything you don’t like is “fake.” There’s no such thing as “win-win.” If I gain, you must lose, and vice-versa.
You wind up with silly arguments, like the one where conservatives say that no “socialist” system has ever worked, and progressives say that of course they have. But take a look at North Korea. Recent reports suggest that lurking just under the surface of the communist DPRK is a vibrant, capitalist black market that makes up two-thirds or more of the actual economy. Workers cut deals with their bosses to skip work in exchange for a piece of what they make outside the “official” workplace. That requires a degree of mutual empathy and trust that I bet is missing in a lot of American job sites today.
It’s not the system that matters. Some systems make things easier than others, but if we have faith in each other, we either make whatever system work or we work around it.
In short, we are the system, the ones failing ourselves, and each other.
When the Great Tao is forgotten, doctrines of justice and mercy prevail.
When wit and cleverness prevail, hypocrites rule.
When kinship falls into discord, piety and rites of devotion arise.
When the nation is in crisis, all the patriotic ministers appear.Sam Hamill, translator. Tao Te Ching, Chapter 18. Shambhala Publications, Inc. 2005