Fri Apr 6th, 2018 at 08:29:01 PM EST
Given the tenor of the times, I thought it prudent to "re-gift" a bit of wisdom that my child (formerly known here as the Militant Electrician) shared with me. You see? It is possible to think new thinks about old dilemmas. She's at first year university now, and I'm a bit surprised about what she's got up to. I mean, it's not like we whiled away the years bloviating about western epistemology and comparative religion over Monopoly® boards. After all, she has accepted employment in laboratory husbandry (ahem) at school in order to fund the occasional journey by Greyound® bus line to civilization as we knew it. You see? No one is free, yet every one is free.
Based on the reading and discussion, I believe Daoism is the most appealing school of thought. To me, Daoism is the most emotionally beneficial. Confucianism, fundamentally, strives for perfection. Perfection being total fulfillment of personal and societal obligations through self-cultivation. But--I am going to sound selfish--to what extent does cultivation benefit oneself? Primarily, cultivation benefits one's family and society, because one is achieving the personal and communal expectations set for one. If one has a viewpoint contradicting the social norm, one will be pressured to smother one's own values and satisfy others'. Lacking the emotional support and positive affirmation to thrive, one has condemned oneself to lifelong unhappiness. Any cultivation one pursues will lack the human sincerity, or ren, that is the foundation of Confucianism. One's feelings of inadequacy will create a chain reaction in which one may try to over-compensate for one's "moral failure" causing self-harm, or pressure peers to achieve perfection to compensate for one's lack thereof causing communal harm. Either way it is a lose-lose scenario. Perfection is unachievable, because one's desires are often incongruous with what other's desire for one.
A school of thought based in social acceptance, Confucianism works in maintaining the status quo of normative doctrine, i.e. "thou shall not kill" and "thou shall not steal." Regarding more sensitive areas, such as class, race, and gender, those in the minority are often at the mercy of indoctrinated majority group values. These majority values not only encourage isolation of social "deviants" but their persecution socially, politically, economically, and psychologically. Confucianism may teach respect on a social level but fails to teach the most essential principle for a prosperous life, self-respect.
In contrast, Daoism emphasizes acceptance with "the way" of the world, the Dao. The Dao, epitomized in nature, is a liberating entity, contrasting the rigidity of social institutions. By modeling one's thoughts and behavior after the fluidity of nature, one frees oneself from the constraints of social expectations. Daoist thought not only challenges one's perspective, or limits enforced through social affirmation, but compels one to re-evaluate their perception of reality. This new perspective is created by one, for oneself. If one no longer measures one's existence by the values of others, one will lessen the chance of internalizing self-destructive social standards thus living in harmony. For if one is at peace with oneself, why bother causing conflict with others?