Tag Archives: freedom

Rethinking RESPECT

“The wisdom of the ancients can inspire a reinvention of democracy now.” In this context, RESPECT is the necessary balance to the earlier blogs on FREEDOM and POWER.

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53. RESPECT

Through the text runs a moral thread, which foreshadows the most noble ideals of Confucianism: A respect for the Natural Order, an esteem for self-cultivation, and a sense of social justice.  — Kerson and Rosemary Huang, The I Ching

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As long as companies think of employees as costs rather than assets, they will always be tempted to reduce the costs rather than invest further in the assets by providing safety nets for health care, retirement, and all the things that help people to get through their lives with dignity.  — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

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Our respect for ourselves determines (a) the amount of respect we crave from others and (b) our need to push for control and dominance. . . when you are in a situation when you feel disrespected, it causes a negative response [as if] the outside world, through your ego, is your only source of psychological support or nourishment.  — David J. Lieberman, Make Peace with Anyone

THE FRONT

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Roots of respect mean to look at, or look back on. Webster’s first definition is to feel or show honor or esteem for, to hold in high regard, or to treat with deference. It also means to show consideration for, to avoid intruding upon or interfering with, as to respect others’ privacy. It can mean a deference or dutiful regard, as in respect for the law. Respect is used to indicate courteous regard, as in respect for others’ feelings.

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In the context of Affirmative Action objectives, respect refers to acceptance of diversity in public life, honoring each individual’s dignity and value, regardless of national origin, age, gender or personal beliefs. This implies more than an obligation to pay token lip service to legislation or an attitude of condescending tolerance. It supports the welcoming, embracing view that everyone has something of unique value to offer; that the whole is completed and enriched by contributions from every possible point of view.

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In Native American, Buddhist and Hindu traditions alike, children are taught a reverence for all of life, extending not only to humans, but nature as well. This includes creatures of the animal and insect kingdoms, as well as rivers and oceans, forests, mountains, deserts, jungles and even the air we breathe. Together they weave the fabric of life on earth, and evoke a commitment to maintaining the delicate balance of life-sustaining elements.

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In corporate context, unfortunately, respect takes on the qualities of intimidation, fear of retribution, and enforced loyalty. In the context of inner city gang cultures, respect takes on intense meaning. The slang word “dis” means to disrespect. News stories tell of youth so outraged when strangers show disrespect that they kill for revenge. Their extreme desire for external show of personal respect changes to its extreme opposite, the ultimate show of disrespect for life.

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Sages teach enduring respect for the timeless essence of all traditions, but do not hold onto particular forms of its expression after their usefulness has been outgrown. In Chinese history, the life span of successful dynasties was extended not by resisting change, but by embracing it.

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When barbarians hordes assailed the empire’s gates, royal advisors, knowing that resistance was futile, recommended that the newcomers’ vitality be respectfully assimilated by mutually beneficial intermarriage of races and ideas.

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When paradigms are in flux as new approaches are sought to answer new questions and meet new needs, messengers of change are often shot as if traitors by short-sighted, self-serving gatekeepers of the passing order. This may impede progress, but cannot turn back the clock.

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When the times are dangerous and the need for growth imperative, attempting to inhibit urgently necessary change is as dangerous to the civilization as is attempting to stop a mother’s labor pains once the birthing process has begun.

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If, through our examples, we taught our children self-respect, self-awareness and a fearless respect for life, they’d experience no need to demand respect from others. Then disrespectful behavior would trigger not rage, but rather compassion and a commitment to uplift the ignorant and less fortunate.

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THE BACK

Disrespect is the opposite of respect. Often it’s a product of sheer laziness and inattention. It can manifest as careless word choice or manner of dress. It’s reflected in failure to maintain one’s health, relationships, tools or property. This attitude is passed down through the generations and perpetuated by imitating bad examples.

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The word respect is perverted when used in the context of Mafia-like extortion. It becomes a euphemism for submission due to extreme fear and the illusion of powerlessness. Corrupt governments and organized crime rings which depend on passive acquiescence to stay in power are not respecters of life, nor do they receive of authentic respect.

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Kerson and Rosemary Huang, The I Ching. (Workman Publishing Co.: New York. 1985.)  Preface.

James A. Autry & Stephen Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching. (Riverhead Books: New York, 1998.) p. 186.

David J. Lieberman, Make Peace with Anyone: Breakthrough Strategies to Quickly End Any Conflict, Feud, or Estrangement. (St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2002.) p. 15.

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* See the Conscience Page for a description of the structure-within-structure format of the Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays.

Rethinking FREEDOM

 

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40. FREEDOM

“The natural laws of the universe are inviolable: Energy condenses into substance. A person who neglects to breathe will turn blue and die. Some things simply can’t be dismissed.

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“It is also part of the cosmic law that what you say and do determines what happens in your life.” — Brian Walker, Hua Hu Ching : The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu

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“Especially for those of us who lived in single cells, we discovered that sitting down just to think is one of the best ways of keeping yourself fresh . . . to address the problems facing you. You could stand away from yourself in the past and examine whether your behavior was befitting to a person who tried to serve society.” — Nelson Mandela, Interview, Larry King Live

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“When employees trade love, soul and freedom for maximizing profits, corporations lose their human center, and that’s as deadly for corporations as it is for us. The unhappiness and suffering that trade-offs create suggest that the paradigm is the culprit. We’re using bad software, and it’s distorting our concepts of what’s going on. We need all three together to be creative. When we’re destructive, it’s not because our nature is destructive, but because the trade-off paradigm is destructive to us.” — Breton & Largent, Love, Soul & Freedom: Dancing with Rumi on the Mystic Path

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THE FRONT

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Freedom is the state or quality of being free, implying exemption or liberation from the control of other people or arbitrary powers. It means liberty and independence. It implies exemption from arbitrary restriction or a specified civil right. It can mean exemption or release from imprisonment, or being able to act, move or use without hindrance or restraint. It means being able of itself to choose or determine action freely, at will, implying ease of movement performance or facility. It means being free from the usual rules or patterns. It can also mean easiness of manner, or sometimes an excessive frankness and familiarity.

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Like the words peace, love and unity, freedom is a state attained on the inside first, only then reflected in external circumstances. In I Ching context, freedom is a state of in-dependence, depending on inner resources for guidance, protection and peace. The freedom sages seek is the cessation of negative, involuntary patterns of behavior. Breaking the chains of destructive cause and effect is a function of focus combined with self-correction, forgiveness and atonement (at-one-ment) in positive action.

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Those secure in themselves dedicate their lives to extending the freedom they value for themselves to others without prejudice. Abraham Lincoln, for example, had the soul of a sage. He intuitively knew the basics of magic, and recognized the difference between black and white rules. He wrote, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” As if direct from the Treatise on Esoteric Ethics, Abe delivered a speech in Wisconsin where he said, “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith do our duty as we understand it.”

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Yet legal prohibitions cannot end of slavery. Saying and doing whatever one wants as a puppet of blind impulse isn’t true freedom. Seeing through negative filters of fear, pride, or apathy is as limiting as literal blindness. Even in a society that calls itself democratic, to the extent we’re unaware of inner wisdom and the laws of natural change, we’re not really free.

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Soul is like the in-breath of life. Love is like the out-breath. Freedom is the intertwined marriage of soul and love in balanced, rhythmic exchange. When we can’t breathe freely, we slowly starve from within, and wither mysteriously even in the midst of apparent prosperity.

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Breton and Largent, quoting the Sufi mystic Rumi, write, “Whatever we do, we do from our inner compass. That’s free:

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Take someone who doesn’t keep score,

Who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,

Who has not the slightest interest even

in his own personality: He’s free.”

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In I Ching context, the self-mastery attained by thinking and acting consistently from a positive paradigm that’s simple, complete and correct is the most precious, inalienable freedom.

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Nelson Mandela’s life is proof that it’s not circumstances which enslave.

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THE BACK

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The opposite of freedom is imprisonment or slavery. This includes not only external, physical incarceration, but internal, self-imposed limitations. Bad attitudes, negative emotions and self-destructive habits can be as addicting as tobacco, alcohol or drugs, undermining personal freedom.

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Recklessness and heedlessness are perversions of freedom. If a mistrusted authority says not to drink, smoke or drive too fast, for example, the first thing a rebellious teen will do to assert “freedom” is disobey, regardless of the consequences. Sadly, this is the hard way to learn the connection between foolishness and disaster.

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Brian Walker, Hua Hu Ching: the Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu. (HarperSanFrancisco: New York, 1992.) #40.

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Nelson Mandela, Larry King Live Interview, aired May 16, 2000. cnn.com/transcripts.

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Denise Breton & Christopher Largent, Love, Soul & Freedom: Dancing with Rumi on the Mystic Path. (Hazelden: Center City, Minnesota, 1998.) p. 7.