Hard Times, Kind People — What We Need in 2009, Says Lao Tzu

Have been reading a fascinating book about affective science, called Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

So what, you might say. These are hard times! I can't waste energy on frivolities!

But what if the race amongst us hominids — chimps and people alike — goes not to the biggest, brawniest, and most intimidating, or even the meanest, but to those best able to mediate conflict? To those able to see beyond themselves? What if those who are most concerned with their own survival are often too frightened or timid to take care of others, and thus less useful to the group? What if maximizing self-interest leads to small lives?

More on this soon. But for now, let me quote a lovely poem from the book, by Lao Tzu:

When man is born, he is tender and weak
At death, he is stiff and hard
All things, the grass as well as the trees, are tender and subtle while alive
When dead, they are withered and dried.

Therefore the stiff and the hard are companions of death
The tender and weak are the companions of life
If the tree is stiff, it will break
The strong and the great are inferior, while the tender and the weak are superior. 

And here's an image from an Asian photographer known as photocello called, yes, Tree in the Wind


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