Tao Te Ching, Chapter 49
To say there's a lot of disrespectful behavior in our world would be an understatement., Too many people react mindlessly, driven by fear, defensively shaming and blaming others, which not only builds walls of resentment but keeps us from solving our problems.
Lao-Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching during the warring states period in ancient China, a time of massive social and political upheaval. His courageous response to the chaos around him was respect—for self, others, and the cycles of nature.
The wisdom of Tao is pragmatically idealistic. Instead of surrendering to fear and reinforcing the violent status quo defining life as an endless power struggle, Lao-Tzu realized that our response to a situation makes all the difference. "What is"—the current state of things—does not need to continue, for the Tao teaches that life is a dynamic process.
The Tao reminds us that we are not passive victims of circumstance. "What is" can become "What may be." We can begin a new cycle of creation at any time by acknowledging and redirecting the energies around us.
As a Tao leader, you, too, can respond to a difficult situation with courage and resourcefulness. Respecting the dynamic process of life, you can discover innovative solutions and create greater harmonies by responding with respect for yourself, for others, and the process of life itself.
An earlier version of this lesson appeared in Dreher, D. (1996). The Tao of Personal Leadership. New York, NY: HarperCollins.