79.1 When you harmonize bitter enemies,
yet resentment is sure to linger,
how can this be called good?
79.2 Therefore sages keep their faith
and do not pressure others.
79.3 So the virtuous see to their promises,
while the virtueless look after precedents.
79.4 The Way of heaven is impersonal;
it is always with good people.
Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation
Here is a very nice Taoist commentary by Carl Abbot http://www.centertao.org/tao-te-ching/dc-lau/chapter-79-commentary
Because we are all a little bit self centered and greedy and much more likely to take note of the harm done to us than the harm we do, we all feel at least a little bit cheated in any bargain. That's just the way things are. So what can be done about it? Do nothing. Or do the right thing.
The line that jumps out at me, and grabs me, and shakes me up, and challenges me is this:
"Therefore the sage keeps his part of the bargain,
but does not exact his due." (Gai-fu Feng/Jane English translation)
I was taught not to be a sucker. But is God a Sucker if he gives us everything and asks for nothing in return* Was Ryokan a sucker when he felt badly that he owned nothing for the thief to steal? Were the followers of Jesus suckers when they listened admiringly to the sermon on the mount and heard such ideas as "if someone grabs your coat give him your shirt also" (Original Book of Q)
An evolutionary biologist tells me that there must be more givers than takers and that the givers must become "grudges" in order to dissuade an epidemic of takers. But the kingdom of heaven is like yeast. There are societies where everyone is taught to be cruel and suspicious, these societies survive, when they do, only because some tiny few refuse to learn that lesson. They refuse to stop being givers even when everyone else has become takers. They are the leaven that keeps those societies from falling apart. As the Marines say: "A few good men (and women)"--- in fact, these giver "deviants" are far more often women than men.**
So the Taoist sage trusts the untrustworthy because that what trust is. She has faith in the faithless because that's what real faith is. He keeps his end of the bargain if others drop their's because that's what commitment is.
Holy Loving: Let me be a giver, not a taker nor a grudge. Let me do the right thing whatever else might be going on. Amen.
* Some believe that God makes deals with humankind, and for God to hold up his end, we must hold up ours. But the mystics know (or don't know) better. Nothing we can do can earn God's love and nothing God will do can deprive us of it.
** The classic example of this are the Mundagamor, a New Guinea people studied by Margaret Mead. If they were to kill their lovers (like Colin Turnbull's Mountain People) they would totally disintegrate.