I cast the I Ching this morning, as I do most mornings, looking for words of wisdom to ponder upon during the day. I cast #45 Gathering Together.
From the Wilhelm/Baynes edition I read:
“Only collective moral force can unite the world.”
I would add to that line “and create peace and prosperity for all.”
The problem is that people don’t seem to understand or know what is and is not moral, and what is and is not a moral force. In this sense of the word, force is used as in a gathering of people, not physical force/brutality/bribery/coercion/abuse.
I have been watching the destruction of the Middle East, along with the rest of the world, and shaking my head in or scratching my head (use whatever metaphor you prefer) in amazement, disbelief, confusion (all three words seem to fit). Then Ferguson, Missouri erupted with racial tension, looting and violence, almost in my own backyard. Looking at the pictures on the news you couldn’t tell if it was the Gaza strip, Syria, Iraq or Missouri.
The Israelis and Palestinians seem to be tearing each other apart. When the dust settles I wonder if there will be anything left worth rebuilding, yet alone whether anything good and sound can be rebuilt upon a foundation of hate.
I can’t help but think of one of my favorite poems from my childhood, “The Duel”, by Eugene Field:
“The gingham dog and the calico cat, Side by side on the table sat;….The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate, Appeared to know as sure as fate, There was going to be a terrible spat…..”
“Next morning, where the two had sat, They found no trace of dog or cat; And some folks think unto this day That burglars stole that pair away! But the truth about the cat and pup, Is this: they ate each other up!”
Wisdom (in this case words of warning and words worth paying attention to) can be found in many places.
In Missouri, the legitimate complaints of the locals got swept aside as hoodlums and hooligans used the opportunity to be hoodlums and hooligans (to loot and destroy, damaging the businesses that helped keep the town viable).
Both Ferguson Missouri and the Middle East problems are examples of what happens when that “collective force” becomes a “collective immoral force”.
Then on PBS news hour the other night there was a report about a special school program that was teaching parents how to help their children with their schooling. Finally a wise teacher realized that teachers and school administrators can’t do it all, the parents have to be active participants in their children’s education, AND they need help in learning how to help their children! This wise teacher started a summer reading program for kids that offers two sessions a week for the parents. Reading scores have gone up and some of the kids that were struggling are now saying they like school!
Something positive and uplifting, people (parents and teachers) working together for the benefit of the kids! An example of that “collective moral force” at work!
What has all of this got to do with Religion? Well the problems in the Middle East are obvious, Palestinians -- in general though not all of them -- are Muslims and the Israelis are Jews. Support for the Israeli side and opposition to the Palestinian plight has come from many Christians who have their own religious agenda to promote. ISIS, the new terror group is a Muslim group trying to establish an Islamic Caliphate with forced conversion to Islam and enforcement of strict Sharia law on all within their claimed territory. No tolerance is given for people of other faiths.
The Ferguson, Missouri problem is a moral issue, involving the moral actions of:
- The local police,
- The citizens,
- The outsiders that came to protest, and
- The hooligans and hoodlums that came to loot,
Morality has long been considered by many religious leaders to be under their jurisdiction.
The school story? Teaching the value of reading and education, and the importance of parents and teachers working cooperatively together, is also a moral issue.
Morality is more than just abiding by or defying “Gods” laws.
According to my Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, morality is about:
“Principles and practices in regard to right, wrong, and duty, ethics; general conduct or behavior especially in sexual matters.”
I would add:
But not limited to sexual matters.”
In short, morality is about how we treat our fellow man -- all of them, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and wealth or social status or lack thereof. It is about our day to day words and actions. It is about what “we do or do not do unto others.”
“Only collective moral force can unite the world and create peace and prosperity for all.” Wise words to ponder for a day whatever your religious or non-religious orientation.
Originally published: 2015-FEB-19
Last updated 2015-FEB-20
Author: Susan Humphreys.