Sunday, January 18, 2015

Letters to a young man 36

Hello my friend.

These are indeed dark days, are they not? Does it feel like there is nowhere left in the world which is sane, which makes sense? Does it seem to you that everyone, everywhere has gone crazy? What if I told you that it has always been this way? Consider that in ages long past one would only hear of massacres and wars long after they'd happened, as news traveled at the speed of ships and animals. The same brutality and killing has always happened and so what is happening now is nothing new. What's new is that you are constantly bombarded by images, live feeds even, of the things as they are happening. I argue that your mind wasn't meant to deal with such an influx of terrors and despair at such a constant rate. We are equipped to deal with stressful events from which we flee or against which we fight. But a sustained pressure of constant fear and worry will only erode your health and mind.

Therefore I urge you to turn it off. Turn it all off. Turn your back on it for a while. What good will it do you to bathe in the misery of the world? What can you really do about most of it anyway? In your life you are responsible for yourself, your family, and your actions. Tend to yourself and them and turn away from the madness. It will only make you more lonely, despondent and likely to do irrational things. Of course, if you find yourself in the position to make some real difference, of course you should do so. But do not try to turn back the tide for it will knock you down, every time.

Do you find yourself wishing that people were different? That they only need to embrace the inherent good inside of them? I tell you that people are not good, they are evil. Xunzi was right. Watch any number of nature videos, say ones about chimpanzees for example.See how they wage war against one another? See the brutality as they eat their enemies? We are told they are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Are we so different? Watch any number of videos or read reports of the evils of man.2 Again, are we so different?

The nature of man is evil. Man isn't divine, he only has the potential to be divine. Seneca understood this. Xunzi understood this. Rather than confronting this fact with despair and negativity, I urge you to embrace it head on and to steel yourself against the storms you may face in life. In order to do this you must set aside any childlike fantasies you have of reality. No more can you focus on what the world should be. No more will you consider how people ought to behave. Rather, you will see them for what they are and adjust your behavior and expectations accordingly.

In every situation in which you find yourself you will have the opportunity to behave in a better way, to embrace what is divine in you. Yet this will express itself in ways which may not make sense to you. You may think that the best course of action would be to turn the other cheek, to embrace understanding of those who do evil and to give them another chance. I argue that the opposite is true. Sometimes the cancer must be cut out. You must be cruel to be kind. If you are to be a good shepherd and a king amongst men, you must embrace the difficult path. To properly take care of yourself, your family and your people, you must cut out the cancers that are a threat to them. Your way of life and your future depend on it. This is why the sage kings of old were benevolent but they knew when it was correct to punish the wicked and to banish and kill them. There are no sage kings now and the world surely suffers for it. We have only warlords. The world is waiting for true kings to emerge and unify the various peoples. To cut out the cancer and restore peace and order.

Will that be you?

Take heart. This isn't meant to cause you grief. Just the opposite. First, confront reality. Second, understand what you must do and become. Then carry out your hard work. Be dedicated. Be strong and firm. Give no quarter to those who are and do evil. Restore peace and order. To do so, first you must restore peace and order to your own mind and body. Do you think you can restore peace and order to an entire people when you haven't started with yourself? This is the cause of the chaos we see now in the world. The warlords have gained physical strength, weapons, and advantage. But they haven't restored order and peace to their minds and bodies. Therefore they cause the chaos they carry internally to be carried out in the world. The same is true of those who scratch at the gates of civilization, killing those they disagree with. Oh for a strong king to come and banish them. 3

Again I ask, will that be you?