By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.
There are many fields of study that I love. Chief among them – Philosophy, Psychology, Physics and … Politics. Interesting – Mottley’s Four “P”s!
These days whether I think about Antigua or America – or the rest of the world – all four “P”s stand front and center. However, you will agree that Politics become the main focus. And what is happening on the local, regional and global scale – in Antigua and in America – is disturbing, very disturbing. At least, I am disturbed.
When I am disturbed, I tend to turn first to Philosophy, then to Psychology and sometimes Physics. So because I am disturbed, I turned to one of my principal teachers: Lao Tzu – the ancient Chinese sage and philosopher.
Of course there is not enough space in this brief discourse to do full justice to his teachings on the body ‘politik’. So I will limit myself to one or two of his thoughts on the matter of “politics” that I thing are worthy of note and which relate to current local and global political developments.
First of all as an aside… the ideal country according to Lao Tzu – “is a small country with a few inhabitants!”
That makes sense to me… less people… less strife and conflict… less stress… less immigration! Antigua used to be like that, but our un-sage-like leaders thought it sage to increase our population with people from everywhere – even from China! Now we have more people… more strife and more conflict…
One of Lao Tzu’s central tenets is his belief about the core tendency of human beings is towards degeneration. This, he claimed is an ‘inherent tendency in human nature’. My comment is that his observations are spot on… just look around you… look into your own heart… listen to the radio… watch TV… listen to the news… degeneration all around! Murders, stealing, political corruption, executive greed, war over land and territory, brothers against brothers, sisters against sisters, religious elements against religious elements… all over the world… including Antigua and Barbuda.
So what is his recommendation to deal with this core human tendency towards degeneration? “Political Authorities (call Sages) should be set up to rescue society and bring peace!
But Lao Tzu recognizes that his prescription for peace could be a proscription for more degeneration if we do not have the pure and genuine ‘sages’. Therefore his recommendation is paradoxical… to say the least. I will deal with this paradox in another article since I want to focus on the ‘sages’.
The ‘sages’ should reflect the essence of the ‘Tao’. Now here we have a term that would essential take a long text to fully do justice to. I will try to explain it simply. The Tao is that which is a part of everything… It is said to be analogous to water… is in everything… not necessarily seen as water… yet influences the world around us… and in us. The essence of the Tao is goodness. One other aspect of the Tao is important… it is un- and in-describable!
So our political authorities… or sages… should reflect the Tao. What are some of their characteristics:
- They love the people and have as a goal to help people cultivate themselves to reflect the nature of the Tao;
- They have no individual wants and desires (so they are not using their position to empower themselves);
- They love quietude; And in this they are calm like still water;
- Have as a goal to banish the institutions which abuse power and lead to corruption and add to the degeneration of the people;
There are other characteristics – but those are in the same vein… lack of desire for power, deep respect and understanding of nature (the Tao), love and respect for the people and a commitment to banish those institutions and forces that prey on the weaknesses inherent in the people.
So… we need Sage Leaders… in Antigua and in America.
Fortunately, I think we have got rid of two un-sage-like leaders… in Antigua and in America… those two leaders with B’s in their last names.
And we have found two very sage-like leaders – with B’s in their first name: Baldwin Spencer and Barack Obama.
They are both truly as Sage-like as we are likely to ever get! Let's keep, celebrate and give them a chance to lead from their heart.