Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wisdom Learned From Water

In the Catholic Peace Weekly, an article starts with a four-letter phrase in the writings of Lao-tzu,  Tao Te Ching: 上善若水 (highest good like water). Water never brings attention to itself and always seeks the lowest places and nourishes everything on the way. To live in this way is to be close to saintliness. Its opposite is to live contrary to right reason and rashly.

The writer lists two recent cases that make him appreciate the wisdom of the four words that begins his article. One case a person in a government post was arrested but shortly after with a change of judges the person arrested was released because there wasn't sufficient reason for the arrest. Many citizens questioned the difference in the way the law was read. Many in the legislature censured the judge.

The second case mentioned is the signatures of 200,000 citizens on the Blue House bulletin board, asking for the abrogation of the law against abortion. You have a highly contested issue: those who strongly feel you are killing a fetus and you have the others saying it's against the right a woman has over her body. A new aspect entered the picture when the Blue House representative of the people mentioned the problems with the issue.

All these events occurred naturally but it is not right for the legislative branch of government to censure the judicial or the executive to control the direction of legislation. Law, the compulsory code of the state is not different from the law of water. Western natural law thinking and ordinary law both seek the source of law in our natural life and in Asia the very word law  is an icon of water seeking harmony.

Our understanding of the law is that when we have a wrong law we follow procedures to revise or abolish the law. All the citizens have the right to express their opinion. However, on the principle of the separation of powers, the legislative, executive and judicial should not exceed the conduct that is given to them in their office. The democratic system collapses if the legislature disputes the interpretation of the law by the judiciary of if the executive forces their view on the legislature.

Man is an imperfect being and even if I am convinced I am right I may be wrong. The natural flow of water we should imitate, my self-righteousness does not produce good results. When we seek to achieve justice by force the results often destroy our common sense.

In 1919 lawmakers in the United States Congress passed a constitutional amendment that prohibited the production of alcoholic beverages in the United States. This made thousands of Americans outlaws until abolished in 1933. As a result the ban has remained synonymous with excessive reforms that have caused public dissatisfaction and social disruption: the result of abandoning the wisdom learned from water. The writer finishes the article by saying that fortunately, our Christians do not fall into this foolishness because they pray that "the will of the Father, not my will be done" (Luke 22:42).

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