Thursday, March 31, 2005

I was reading Laozi last night, and thought this passage was one worth holding against what most people call history, or at least the evening news (excerpted from Jonathan Star's translation of verse 38):

The highest virtue is to act without sense of self
The highest kindness is to give without condition
The highest justice is to see without preference

When Tao is lost one must learn the rules of virtue
When virtue is lost, the rules of kindness
When kindness is lost, the rules of justice
When justice is lost, the rules of conduct
And when the high-blown rules of conduct are not followed people are seized by the arm and it is forced on them
The rules of conduct
are just an outer show of devotion and loyalty--
quite confusing to the heart
And when men rely on these rules for guidance--
Oh what ignorance abounds!

Nothing, it seems to me (again, watching the evening news), Hawthorne didn't know. So, prophecy isn't telling the future, it's telling the present. Over and over and over again.

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