On Society and Government

“I have heard that the heads of states or noble families do not worry over poverty but instead over equal distribution of wealth; they do not fret over underpopulation, but whether the people are insecure. Now, if there is equality in distribution there will be no poverty; if there is harmony in society there will be no underpopulation, and if there is security, there will be no subversion” (Analects 16.10 Muller; http://www.acmuller.net/con-dao/analects.html#div-17)

My thoughts:

It is my opinion that the responsibility of government is derived from the rudiments of the concept of society. It is further my thought that the concept of society is derived from the most basic of all human instincts.

Human beings seem to have an innate moral sense founded upon a natural aversion to suffering. Subsequently from an early age most everyone cannot bear the sound of one suffering, even before the suffering being can be identified. Hence, by nature we extend our natural aversion to discomfort of any degree to others somewhat indiscriminately, thus spontaneously feeling for the suffering of even a remote sentient being.

From these natural and instinctive human qualities are derived the primary objective of a society and the practical function of government.

Based upon our natural aversion to suffering which serves as the foundation for our innate moral sense, I conclude that the primary objective of a society is to shield every single person from undue suffering. In fact, the responsibility of any collective is to provide for the common good . It then follows that the practical function of government would be to administer a system to meet that end.

Although written by men who were inconsistent in the execution of their own documented principles, even the US Constitution obliges the Congress to provide for the common defense and the general welfare (The Preamble and Article 1 Section 8). The reality then of poverty in our land of plenty reveals that as a society we not only fail a natural collective obligation, but we even fail to execute the primary principles of our own constitution.

For the primary objective of a society and the practical function of government is to alleviate undue suffering by providing for the common good and for the general welfare. In circumstances when such is not the case, then the society should repent and the government should be revised accordingly.

Only then will the natural way of government be established, balance be restored, and harmony ultimately ensue.

Such as they are these are my thoughts as to the objective of a society and the function of government.


A Continuous Quest In An Ever Changing Universe

The universe is in constant flux and transformation. A moment by moment displacement and reformation.

The universe is everything which is known and experienced, and much more. Even the most knowledgeable among humanity regarding the happenings of our ever expanding universe are merely as a child on the beach looking across the ocean as far as one’s vision might allow. If we only knew what we don’t know, perhaps our ignorance would overwhelm our confidence.

Our concept of reality is limited in scope and to certain specifics. What we know amounts to perceptions as defined by our instincts and our experiences. Our instincts are innate, our experiences are an expanded context of the function of those instincts within the framework of the natural principles of the universe.

Our lives are a moment by moment quest for comfort. An instinctive effort from birth to death. The specifics as to how we achieve that ever elusive goal are limited to the framework of certain seemingly consistent principles within the context of the physical universe.

Our natural instinctive aversion to discomfort is complemented by a secondary instinctive sensitivity for the suffering of others. In fact, we become distressed and therefore internally uncomfortable at the mere sound of the suffering of any other sentient being.

Our instinctive aversion to suffering then seems to not only serve as a means of self preservation, but likewise as a basis for social interaction. Such seems to be the most fundamental principle of our very being as sentient beings within the the context of the constant flux and transformation of our niche of the known universe.

On Innate Comprehension and Universal Aversion To Suffering

Lu Jiuyan taught that the mind is the universe, and the universe is the mind. Mencius taught that all things are complete in oneself.

There is a universal principle that suffering is not good.

It seems universally comprehended that the only suffering which is not bad is that which is inflicted for the purpose of preventing another and less desirable degree of suffering. Surgery for the purpose of preventing a painful or deadly disease comes to mind.

Our aversion to suffering is innate and instinctive. We are born with a natural aversion to discomfort, and we maintain that posture until we pass away. The innate and instinctive comprehension that suffering is bad allows for a spontaneous guide for self preservation and social conduct.

The innate comprehension of the universal aversion to suffering is indicative of Lu Jiuyan’s theory that the mind is the universe, and likewise the thoughts of Mencius that all things are complete in oneself.

Or so it seems to me.

The Essence of Ethics

The notion that we humans are self equipped with instinctive qualities for ethical thinking is evidenced by our natural aversion to suffering for self and others. It seems to me that we are born with the former and that we develop the latter quite early in life through the most basic of natural experiences. Mencius’ illustration of our aversion to the suffering of a dog is a prime example of our natural sensitivity for the suffering of others. Our moment by moment quest for comfort seems to be a kinetic illustration of our natural discomfort in general.

It seems to me that such basic human qualities are the basis for ethical thinking, which in turn should translate to subsequent ethical behavior.

On The Horizontal Nature of Humility

“Humility in a person of high position sheds luster on that position. Humility in a person of lower position no person can exceed.
Thus humility is the ultimate goal of the noble person, regardless of one’s class status or social position in any given context.”

(My paraphrase of the T’uan commentary on the 15th hexagram of Ch’ien of The Book of Changes; aka “The I Ching”)

Humility and deference are often thought of as a “downwards up” perspective. In other words, those who are traditionally regarded as “subordinates” are conditioned to defer to their “superiors” with an attitude of humility and respect.

Such a perspective is quite common in the Western world, and is conditioned into the fiber of our very thinking from an early age onward. Western folk are conditioned to be humble and to defer to all forms of authority figures, commencing from childhood with reference to parents, and continuing throughout our adults lives with reference to any number of a variety of such symbols of superiority. Yet symbols of superiority are all that a person of elevated social position actually represent, for in truth no individual of any setting is superior to any other, regardless of the context.

The natural equitable status of all people being the reality of an unconditioned perspective, then humility should be universal, and respect should be reciprocal in all situations and settings.

In this regard, it has become my observation based upon decades of experience in “the working world” that harmony in such a setting is best accomplished when people of all levels of management and manufacturing share common respect one for another. If the burden of respect for one another is reciprocal, then management and manufacturers share common concerns and seek the common good. This is but one example of an area where universal humility can lead to ultimate harmony, yet such is a most practical place for the application of the process.

Regardless then of one’s “position” or one’s “status”, humility is the ultimate goal of any such person who seeks to be noble and decent.