I love this post of Casey’s today – please go read the whole thing.
More fundamentally, the problem is deeper, being rooted in everyday lifestyles. In doing nothing meaningful, by being comfortable, by pushing one’s choices out from the home to larger social systems, by not working locally with others. Our society actually removes personal freedom. I am saying this partly because our research also showed an additional surprising truth: the programs and education which worked the best (by a factor of 10 to 1) were the small local programs with active community participation. The larger, more generic programs didn’t nearly improve things to the same effect as acting locally.
So a truth is:
To make a difference isn’t: waiting for government to change or by creating large scale “solutions”. Instead changing personal & local activities to pro-actively live in kindness, working directly with the local community becomes the true force of 80% of the change. The small and local oriented changes are the ones which would make the largest difference in improving the problems we have with the United States correctional system.
In the history of Taoism:
Taoism always concentrates on the local community, on personal choices we each have and in being kind to each other.
While people might focus on the high profile items such as The Yellow Emperor, Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching or other high profile works or figures. This only represents the most minor part of Taoist history.
The majority of Taoist history is not even recorded as the majority of Taoist action occurs at the local or personal level of effort. Not many pay attention to the little acts, the helping of each other. Yet enough shrines and occasional scribbled notes of such kindness remain, enough to show us: that is indeed where the heart of the teachings in Taoism reside. Taoism ignores most of its own contributions on purpose! The ideal is to let go of ego and be an part of the larger universe.
Taoism resides centrally to the actions of the heart!
Living this way isn’t easy, which is why when given a choice many people opt for comfort. But a Taoist lifestyle does improve and increase the wealth of experience a 1,000 fold.
The reason we live is to experience life. Taoism is about acting to what you want to be and making life an experience worth expressing. Kindness is core to Taoist philosophy.
When people first learn about Taoism, they assume it is a selfish teaching. However, Taoism is the most selfless religion or philosophy around. The whole practice is to let go of ego and to be part of the universal essence.
I’ve been accused of being selfish and lost friends over it. The irony was that my “selfishness” was one of the most selfless acts I had ever done. It was a situation where I had let go of my ego and simply decided to be there for someone else, and for that, I ended up being ostracized by a group of people who decided their values were better than mine.
Whatever. We don’t always end up with our friendships intact when we take action, but we know our hearts and why we do what we do. And the increase in the depth and strength of the friendships and relationships that survived, plus the wonderful new friends encountered on the path, like Casey, make it worthwhile.