global Posts

What if Lao Tse was a blogger?

TaoThe blogosphere is sometimes a clogosphere of people trying sound smart, witty, or cutting-edge. But if you get a chance, I recommend you check out this really clever guy named Lao Tse. He never blogged, but he was great at cutting to the chase. Here are his tips on good governance, which seem appropriate for these days of “global economic meltdown.”

Lao Tse wrote:



“When a country obtains great power, it becomes like the sea. All streams run downward into it. The more powerful it grows, the greater the need for humility. Humility means trusting in the Tao, and thus never needing to be defensive.[61]

Shadow illusion

A great nation should be like great man. When he makes a mistake, he should realize it. Having realized it, he should admit it. Having admitted it, he should correct it. He should consider those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. He should think of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.[61]



The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be. The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be. The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be.[57]

When man interferes with God, the sky becomes filthy. The Earth becomes depleted. The equilibrium crumbles. Creatures become extinct.[39]



For governing a country well, there is nothing better than moderation. The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas.[59] When the will to power is in charge, the higher the ideals, the lower the results. [58]



[Instead,] center your country on the way, and evil will have no power. Not that it isn’t here, but you’ll be able to step out of its way. Give evil nothing to oppose, and it will disappear by itself.[60]



If a nation is centered in this way, if it nourishes its own people and doesn’t meddle in the affairs of others, it will be a light to all nations of the world.[61]”

This treatise, excerpted from the Tao Te Ching, was written 2500 years ago. Words in italics are various translations for “the Tao.” In the illustration above, squares labeled A and B are actually the same shade of gray. The shadow causes your eyes to deceive you. This illusion wasn’t well known in Lao Tse’s day, but it seems to have a certain Zen to it.

Storytelling our way towards a global community

Don't you want to lose sleep writing your own novel in November?November is my favorite month because it is National Novel Writing Month and I love to write. If you are unfamiliar, NanoWriMo challenges regular people to put 1000 words a day on paper towards completing a personal novella of 30,000 words in 30 days. It’s not about quality; it’s about discipline. If you can drop two television shows from your daily routine and write, you can do it. Everyone is carrying an untold story, and most of us don’t even know we have it.

As much as I love to write, sitting down and doing it every day is a chore. Like swimming laps, the hardest part is jumping in. Most good writing sneaks in after a lot of garbage. And I am soooo happy to have an online community of other NaNos that encourage each other to keep writing. It is also a lot of fun to compare day-to-day word-counts and share our personal writing struggles. If you think you’d be into NaNoWriMo, add me as your writing buddy through my current novel page.

Social NetworksThis got me thinking about another great community. GlobalGiving acts like a sort of NaNoWriMo for development projects. You might think of us as a marketplace for giving, but we are also a set of tools for building a giving community, both on your street and around the world. Each project is the beginning of a story – an opening line of some great unwritten tale. We have our heroes (social entrepreneurs), our villians (disease, unjustice, poverty, you-name-it), and every reader is also a novelist. We buy the next volume each time we donate, but we also write the next chapter when we comment on projects, updates from the field, and tell others about a project by email, on Facebook, CouchSurfing, LinkedIn, or whatever your flavor of friend-manager happens to be.

Projects, like the developing novel, are not static items. Having written three novels myself (but published zero, sadly), I know that good drama leaps off the page when you allow yourself to run free with the setting, characters, and any other elements that might not seem “important” from the get-go. Last year my “throw-away” NaNoWriMo turned into something I really want to develop. I will be finishing my “teen angst” novel-turned-metaphysical manifesto on the nature of good and evil in November.

Writer's block never so bad when you're telling a meaningful storyA project begins with a description on the site, but it is what GlobalGivers do with this information that determines whether we write epics or footnotes in history. If we want epic results, we need improvisers and collaboration to help each project develop. There comes a point in every fledgling novel when an author’s plans slam head-first into the brick walls that confine one’s imagination. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the novel was a group project?

In philanthropy we can all become Hemingways by adding our stories to life’s narrative. And in the future, I hope more of our donors and beneficiaries will share talents, wisdom, and daily experiences around subjects that matter to the largest number of the world’s people. We might not write the great American novel today, but given the right setting, characters, and devices to overcome the villains, this community could write the first global novel tomorrow.