January 12th, 2011

Tao Te Ching Chapter 57 - Good Influence

Rule a nation with justice.
Wage war with surprise moves.
Become master of the universe without striving.
How do I know that this is so?
Because of this!

The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.

Therefore the sage says:
I take no action and people are reformed.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing and people become rich.
I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.

  Daily Tao - November 9th, 2009


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The legacy of Mother Teresa?


New Statesman - The squalid truth behind the legacy of Mother Teresa

A chilling article and some interesting comments.

Well, i think i can see what happened here.  Its the Stanford Prison "Experiment" all over again.
Take some ordinary people, maybe even extraordinary people, put them in an impossible situation
and watch what happens.  For those unfamiliar with Zimbardo's "Experiment" or with Stanley Milgram's
Obedience "experiments," i warn you.  The picture will not be pretty.

Give people an impossible task, give them limited resources, tell them to be kind and good, enclose all this in an institutionalized setting. and one of four things will happen
a) the job will not get done.
b) people who need the service will not get it
c) staff will not behave with kindness and goodness
d) all of the above.

Would any similar effort: hospital, school, orphanage, prison, hospice, or shelter do any better?  I can't say for sure; but i have been a student in American schools, and i have had loved ones who were patients in "faith based" hospitals and nursing homes, and i have been a volunteer in a homeless shelter, and in each of those places i have seen bad things happen to people which i don't think would have happened to them in a less institutionalized or rule laden environment.

(Edit:  On reconsideration, my experience in a homeless shelter was not all that unpleasant, in fact it was a satisfying growth experience.  This may have been because our goals were modest, well within our means, and their were only a few basic rules.  Guests often spoke of less pleasant experiences in franchise shelter.)

When a single person with a resource meets another person with a need, there is always a way for them to treat each other with dignity while, perhaps, solving a problem.  When an institution with its rules and standard operating procedures gets between them, all bets are off.