I am not a Taoist. Nevertheless, I have learned that the philosophy of Taoism has much to offer. The Taoist concept of Yin and Yang holds that nothing is ever entirely black or white; hard or soft; good or bad. Taoism teaches that good people can do bad things. It also teaches that those we consider bad can, on occasion, do good things.
This is particularly true as it pertains to politics.
For example, I know many who are otherwise caring, loving people who would deny food, shelter, health care and other human necessities to the unfortunate simply because their Republican Party preaches personal responsibility. They have become convinced that the poor are merely taking advantage of those of us who have been successful. They want to believe that the majority of the poor are lazy. Such thinking allows them to look the other way when they see someone who is in desperate need of help.
They cannot conceive that someone can work hard and still struggle to feed their families because they are underpaid by large, greedy corporations. They falsely believe that minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs that are the first step up the economic ladder. In past times, that may have been true. But in today’s economy, with many of our high-paying jobs now shipped offshore, for many people, the economic ladder has been pushed aside by greedy corporate executives.
Many Republicans refuse to accept that the American Dream no longer exists for many people; that the US is not the land of opportunity it once was; that no amount of hard work can pull many of the unfortunate out of poverty; that the US now has less upward mobility than most of the rest of the industrialized world.
As a result, many good Republicans cheered when the federal government cut $5 billion from the annual budget of SNAP (food stamps) – an amount equal to all of the charitable organizations in the nation (501c4 “charities” such as American Crossroads and FreedomWorks, not included). The same people who would gladly give food and money to a family member or neighbor are still clamoring to cut another $4-40 billion from SNAP at a time when 1 in 6 Americans and 1 in 4 American children are dealing with hunger.
These grinches are not bad people. They are simply uninformed or misinformed.
These champions of personal responsibility and faith are convinced that social safety nets are not only unnecessary. They believe that social programs are creating a culture of dependence. They believe that the minimum wage, labor unions and government regulation are threats to our economy.
They believe that subsidies and giveaways to large corporations are good. But that subsidies and giveaways to people are bad. Why? If it’s true that corporations are people, shouldn’t they both be treated equally? If a half dozen banks are considered too big to fail, shouldn’t group consisting of millions of poor Americans also be considered too big to fail?
Taoism teaches that all things are part of a greater whole – the great Tao – and that if you harm another, in reality you harm yourself. Caring Republicans would be wise to keep that in mind.