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Buissinne from Pixabay
104 When one size does not fit
At the conclusion of
Article 89 a monkey, a dog, and a chicken try to get through
a fence. The monkey finds a hole in the fence, the dog follows
the monkey, and the chicken stubbornly bangs against the
Plato used the myth of the metals to
assign attributes to different people. Today we will perform the
exercise using the collection of animals: invent, follow, and
In my upbringing, heaven
includes three degrees: the highest for enlightened people, the
middle for faithful followers, and the lowest for practitioners
of willful rejection.
Pondering this theme has
taught me that it applies exactly to our present circumstances.
People in my world are composed of the same metals—that is, fall
into those three categories. We admire those who apply
intelligence creatively to improve themselves and the world. We
appreciate those who can follow obediently without rocking the
boat. We avoid those who oppose progress and tear down the work
of others. In other words, the present world is constructed the
same as heaven. People disclose their selection here, not at
final judgment. That close correspondence between the concept of
heaven and the observable world underlies my earlier declarations
that we create not only our own worlds but also our own heavens
Present existence – past, present,
Note that the above
paragraph overlays or correlates the present and the future.
Ancient teachings illustrate this fusion using a river as
metaphor: the river appears fixed, always the same flow of water.
However, the water it contains moves downstream and is replaced.
The always-same entity is actually always different. From the
viewpoint of the water, there is uninterrupted movement, a
relativity perspective that we have discussed before
92). The river has a past. The water
has a past. In science we refer to the water cycle. In philosophy
this can represent the union of past, present, and future. Our
perspective reveals where we are in the rhythm.
Dealing with darkness
article 84 I deny an evil world. Light has positive existence
and darkness is merely absence of light. In that sense, evil is
not its own existence. However, evil can alternatively be viewed
as a negative entity. In the above layering of degrees, the
bottom ranking has to do with destructive behavior. The lowest
order is not merely having less light. It involves destroying or
detracting from that which comes from the light.
It is improper to dismiss people as evil. In
article 6 I look for the Paul inside every Saul. However, it
is realistic, proper, and necessary to raise defenses while we
are waiting for the transformation. Predators must not prevail.
We must survive to be good examples. We are not rejecting the
perpetrators when we deny them the opportunity to commit
I sorrow over robbers and armies who
plunder peasants. I decry companies that fail to provide
necessary protective equipment to employees. I am disappointed
with those who cheat their fellow humans. In our happy human
family, some things are to be kept out. Therefore, I acknowledge
protective systems that facilitate our ever new world. I am not
permissive of the forces that revert back to jungle law,
conquering by might.
Choose the highest degree
Article 17 instructed
us to be considerate of others. For the construction of our new,
happier world, our common operating principle is putting others
ahead of self—that is, being for others. My favorite
metaphor is the world where chopsticks are six feet long. In the
dark side, people swear at the chopsticks. In the light side,
they feed each other. Read the following ideas looking for the
path that best feeds the human family (article
Article 56 identifies
dangers of gridlock in government. Competition and infighting
destroy collaboration. Especially vulnerable are two-party
systems (article7) because they easily split down the
middle into opposing forces. Instead, multi-party systems
(article 8) can provide exchange of ideas where
coalition building on one issue leaves open the possibility of
different alignments on another issue.
Another great drawback of
government power is a one-size-fits-all mentality. Members of the
state desire equal treatment, that is, basic fairness. However,
circumstances vary. For example, in the United States there may
be a uniform standard of providing heat in rental apartments, but
there cannot be a uniform national code for a given thickness of
insulation. At the very least, a government solution needs
to be suited to the lowest practical unit of application.
Weatherproofing standards should be set at the community
These are a few of the
considerations limiting government action. It can be frozen by
gridlock and it can be counterproductive if it tries to impose
improvements on unwilling residents.
On the other hand, some
forms of uniformity are useful. There was a period when
interracial marriage was illegal in some states, effectively
preventing such couples from moving there to take up employment.
That example taught the country to have a uniform national
standard protecting same-sex marriage.
Sometimes government is
the only institution large enough to be effective. In other
circumstances, its inherent limitations prevent it from being
effective. It is not universal panacea.
When government wields much power over
people’s lives, public distrust exacerbates the weaknesses
enumerated above. Sometimes self stands in the way of making
55). When individuals in government put self ahead of others,
the people suffer.
Article 56 suggests a contrasting solution: where government
fails, private individuals take over the load.
Articles 79 and
80 provide concrete examples of individual contribution to
the public good.
Private entities may be less subject than
government to gridlock. They can choose their partners. They can
easily be localized so that they are adapted to the size and
extent of problems they address. They can be flexible and
creative because they more easily break loose from overbearing
individuals—unless, of course, the private entity is an
overbearing individual. Private policies are not required to be
so universally applicable as public policies. Adaptation or
fine-tuning is more practical at the private voluntary level.
On the other hand, here, too, there is a
temptation toward one-size-fits-all mentality and insensitive
imposition of solutions. Private companies and individuals
can be as corruptible as governments. Where that is not the case,
personal virtue in the private sector can be customized,
creative and effective.
My recent courses (as a student) have
taught us to begin with the end in mind. To me that means to
think consequential thoughts. Every outcome should be a
consequence of good choices I make. I am accountable for every
Today I have been laying a foundation for
my assertion that creating the new world is serious effort. I
have previously welcomed you to disagree (articles
53 and 64) and differ (article
46). Success is dependent on tolerance! I am pleased with the
variety of available talents and concerned that they might be
stifled by enforced uniformity. Instead of answers, I specialize
in fresh questions that increase your courage to be original and
I am not pointing out a direction. I am
recommending how we interact with each other. The better world
does not result from victory of a party or the adoption of an
exact monetary policy. Improvement is the result of improved
behavior. My primary key is to put others ahead of self.
Remember that what tiger eats becomes tiger: As long as you
remain sensitive and your heart is pure, you are feeding your
human siblings in this world where the chopsticks are six feet
long. Take courage because your way does not have to be the same
as my way. The end in mind is that we all are fed.
Being For Others Blog copyright © 2020 Kent Busse
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