Shao. Young, few. The young need guidance to attain wholeness.

Life is a daily process of compromise, murky meanings, and ambiguity. What is correct one day can be wrong the next. What seems good can all too easily become bad. For the old, many years of disappointment often produce a bitterness hard to dispel. It is not right to pass this feeling on to the young.

The ancients themselves had attained Tao and no longer acted according to fixed rules. With their decades of experience, they could act with subtlety and grace in the midst of life’s contradictions. But they knew that the young could not act in this way. The ancients therefore gave the young clear rules of conduct that would last until a young person could understand the contradictions of life.

The young are pure, innocent, tender. The young need guidance. Simple and clear answers are necessary. Later, when the young have walked their Tao long in the world, they will transcend all rules.

Sometimes I feel like it’s impossible to truly understand life if you haven’t raised kids. To see the innocence of young children, and yet the mischief they can get into, is just amazing. Even knowing the rules they will test them to their limits. I had to become stricter at times than I could ever have imagined, in my case always about matters of personal safety. The kids could misbehave sometimes in other ways, but never if it compromised their safety.

We give kids rules to keep them safe. Society’s rules for adults are really basically the same, to ensure your safety and that of others. That’s why it makes so little sense to break most rules. But sometimes, you have to make exceptions, even to what seem the strongest of rules.

Some people will simply nevr understand and accept this. They think if you’ve bent the rules, you can’t be trusted, without understanding what the circumstances were. That’s why we have trials, so every case can be judged individually. You can’t know another’s viewpoint and reasons until you’ve looked closely at what happened.

The best way I’ve found to treat people is as if they are children. Explain your rules simply, and if they are violated, ask why. There may be a good reason for someone to violate your space or rules. So don’t judge your transgressors too harshly. You might lose a valuable friend or ally. And if you have to bend a rule yourself, don’t judge yourself too harshly, either. Look at your reasons, and if they were good ones, ease up on yourself. If not, learn the lesson you need to and move on.

And like with kids, big hugs all around when the tears and apologies are over. And maybe ice cream.