Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Reflection: What Does a Bush Conserve?

Forward March: Before we get to the Friday Reflection, UFPJ is having another get-together on the mall in Washington. It's going to be a balmy 50 degrees in the capitol tomorrow (here in New York, it's 8 right now), so if you've had enough northern cold and more than enough southern tyranny, this may be the place to go. Other protests will be going on all over the nation: check here to find one in your area. Whether or not you're marching, be sure to sign the online petition for peace.


Back when I had an agent marketing my book, The Tao of Hogwarts, we received a polite refusal from one publisher whose editor remarked, "if he could make it like Benjamin Hoff's Tao of Pooh, we'd be very interested in this book..."

Yeah, I thought, and I'd like to look like Brad Pitt or have Bill Gates' income or Steve Jobs' marketing acumen. But unfortunately, I am just Brian, a Very Small Author of a Very Minor Blog, and no amount of wishing or imitation will change that. Therefore, you will continue to find The Tao of Hogwarts available in the banner above as a pdf download, free to all who wish to read it.

After all, people with a gift like Benjamin Hoff's don't come along like cars on a rush hour freeway. What Hoff delivers is a mind teeming with imagination and a liberal insight that has been curiously overlooked by left wing pundits who might find a well of topical insight in Hoff's books. His assessment of Bush pere's Gulf War I is positively prescient in its insight. Here's a sampling from The Te of Piglet, which was published 15 years ago as the bestselling sequel to his mega-bestselling The Tao of Pooh: is not exactly Progress for our nation to have moved from the enlightened era of President John F. Kennedy into an era of scandal-ridden administrations run by Special Interests' Candidates seemingly bent on dismantling our democracy and desroying the nation's land, air, and water in the process, while wrapping themselves in the starry flag of Patriotism. For years now, intelligent, concerned activists have been Out, and self-centered, ignoramous conservatives have been In. And that is not what we'd call the Way of a Healthy Society.

Why these people are called Conservatives is beyond our understanding, as they never seem to conserve anything. They don't conserve natural resources. They use them up as quickly as possible. They don't conserve morality and the family, despite much self-righteous boasting to the contrary—boasting that falls rather flat when it comes from those who amass money through commercial enterprises that make a mockery of moral values and put impoverished families, widows, and orphans into the street. They certainly don't conserve money. Not taxpayer money, anyway. It would appear that about the only things they do conserve are the very things the human race ought to have discarded long ago: narrow-mindedness, intolerance, coldheartedness, bigotry, machismo, and greed.

How can such powerful, brutally organized corporate forces be overcome? Shall we start up an army? Set up a barricade? Make weapons of our own to counter the WMD worship-cult that the tyrants have set up?

No, that is not it. Hoff reminds us instead that our greatest strength is in our supposed weakness: we have to be small, together. This is a theme that I mention in Tao of Hogwarts, where I quote from Te of Piglet:

We find that the children themselves, when faced with something monumental or gargantuan, are able to overcome the disparity in size through speed, grace, and the lightness of being that comes from being free of the ponderous burden of ego. Thus, the children can overcome the troll of Book One; Harry is able to outwit the dragon in the first task of the "triwizard tournament" of Book Four; he is helped by a bird (Fawkes the Phoenix) in overcoming the enormous basilisk of Book Two; and Hermione's tiny "time turner" of Book Three brings deliverance to two unjustly condemned beings (Buckbeak the hippogriff and Sirius Black, Harry's godfather). It is as Benjamin Hoff describes in one of his two extraordinary books on the "Tao" of another well-known work of English children's literature:

To the typical mind of the West, Bigger is Better: The large man is a better fighter than the little man, the huge corporation is superior to the small company, the adult is wiser than the child. The Taoist attitude is: Not so....
As we are told in school, the dinosaurs were the most successful creatures on earth—for a while. But geographic and climatic changes eliminated them because they couldn't Adapt, and couldn't compete with the smaller, faster creatures that superceded them. Their most plentiful descendants alive today, scientists tell us, are birds—small, adaptable, and mobile. (pp. 191-193).

Lao Tzu applied the same common sense logic in his poetic advice to the leaders of nations:

Small and great are mutually fulfilling:
Set them into opposition,
And you have made your first and final error.

Therefore, let your nation follow Nature’s way:
If it is big, let its actions be small.
If it is small, it is already complete,
So it need not strive for greatness.
(from Chapter 61 of the Tao Te Ching)


Tomorrow, we'll see, all around the nation and the world, an illustration of this principle of the strength of the small: millions of small bodies will stand and march; countless voices will be raised in the face of Power. Make yours one of them: if there's an event you can attend, go and let off some steam. You can also be heard by your legislators or by the media. As Hoff, Lao Tzu, the I Ching, and many other wise observers throughout history have reminded us, there is success through the small.

No comments: