By Tem Horwitz - Founder and Publisher of Cloud Hands Press
In the ancient era when Sun Tzu served as a general, war was considered a suitable subject for philosophical speculation despite the fact that it was also seen as an unfortunate, painful, expensive and unsatisfactory way of resolving disputes. In “The Art of War,” war is viewed as a terrible enterprise that should be the last alternative after all else has failed, and the text is a guide to avoiding disputes and resolving them with as little trauma and expense as possible.
To negotiate conflict, “The Art of War” teaches that it is essential for a leader to spread personal and internal harmony to all. This applies equally to the head of a household, or a business, or a political or social organization. Families are complicated social entities as are all organizations. Trade wars, international relations, divorce, and family disputes are complicated matters that require harmony so all of the people and entities involved follow a strategic path to a successful resolution. That path is called the Tao, the Way.
In a universe in which everything is in motion, in which constant change is a given, flexibility is required. Every action, however small, has consequences. The world, however, is not completely chaotic for ‘the ten thousand things,’ the myriad things, do form patterns that are recognizable and predictable. The moon rises and the moon sets. A child has a tantrum and then becomes calm. Good times alternate with difficult times. Our worlds expand, and our worlds contract.
We may not be able to avoid pandemics or conflicts or cruel and divisive leaders, but we can make our choices moving with the flow of events, following the Tao—rather than ignoring and failing to accommodate the seemingly infinite complexity of the world. There is a time to advance and a time to retreat. A time to act and a time to be still. To observe and to reflect, but to fail to learn and to make choices accordingly will only lead to chaos.
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