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The best athlete
wants his opponent at his best. 
The best general
enters the mind of his enemy. 
The best businessman
serves the communal good. 
The best leader
follows the will of the people.

All of them embody 
the virtue of non-competition. 
Not that they don't love to compete,
but they do it in the spirit of play. 
In this they are like children
and in harmony with the Tao. 

—tao te ching (#)

In a Pandemic, We Need Democratic Deliberation More Than Ever

As our plague year lengthens–we are but halfway through and already the toll of American dead is 200,000–it becomes ever clearer that COVID-19 is not just a threat to our lives and health, but to our democratic institutions as well. What these often have in common is the attempt to muzzle the political bedrock of our deliberative democracy: public debate of public policy.

Continue reading In a Pandemic, We Need Democratic Deliberation More Than Ever

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Once, after a discussion of the doctrine, Dōgen instructed:“It is not good to overwhelm another person with argument even when he is wrong and you are right. Yet it is also not right to give up easily, saying ‘I am wrong,’ when you have every reason to believe you are right. The best way is to drop the argument naturally, without pressing the other person or falsely admitting that you are wrong. If you don’t listen to his arguments and don’t let them bother you, he will do the same and not become angry. This is something to watch carefully.”

—A Primer of Sōtō Zen: A Translation of Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō Zuimonki, by Reihō Masunaga, An East-West Center Book, Published for the the East-West center by the University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1971. (http://bit.ly/oI7du6)

The sides were always strange,“ Beychae said. ‘We all said that all we wanted was the best for the Cluster, and I think we all meant it, mostly. We all still want that. But I don’t know what the right thing to do is; I sometimes think I know too much, I’ve studied too much, learned too much, remembered too much. It all seems to average out, somehow; like dust that settles over … whatever machinery we carry inside us that leads us to act, and puts the same weight everywhere, so that always you can see good and bad on each side, and always there are arguments, precedents for every possible course of action … so of course one ends up doing nothing. Perhaps that’s only right; perhaps that’s what evolution requires, to leave the field free for younger, unencumbered minds, and those not afraid to act.”

Iain M. Banks, Use of Weapons (#)