Scott:  So, we can and should be engaged in the struggle for greater justice for us all and for the environment. And we should do so non-violently. Do you have any other strategies to suggest?

Zhuangzi:  Well, for starters, it’d be best not to work on the basis of “should”.

S:  I shouldn’t say “should”?

Z:  You can say “should”, but how you arrive at your “shoulds” is best not done on the basis of “should”. It’s best to do it because that’s who you are—unmediated by should and shouldn’t. Confucius got that, you know. He said he didn’t give a hoot about ought and ought not. It’s unfortunate that he was so bound by tradition—so conservative, but he was a great moralist to be sure.

S:  Yes, I get that. But this too is all tangled up, right? I mean my no-should and my shoulds are both simultaneously present and at work.

Zz: Of course. Everything is all tangled up. Everything. When you get and accept that, well, you’re free to wander in the “slippery mush”—or the “mess”, as you say. It’s not about dis-entangling the world—making it all clear and understandable—but living freely in the tangles—and that’s a different kind of dis-entangling—a dis-entangling of yourself.

S: So, for a strategy in encouraging others to get involved we could say there’s no need for “should”, because the caring is already in the one’s who can best be engaged. It’s a question of helping them to make their caring count.

Zz:  Exactly. Those who do not care about what we care about are more likely to change their opinions by way of our example then by way of our preaching. That’s wuwei one-o-one.

S: Okay. Returning to personal strategies: I should be non-violent; but I shouldn’t need to rely on shoulds; but I can practice being non-violent even while I’m working on the basis of shoulds.

Zz: And you can wander freely atop all these contradictions—because this is life, and life is a much better teacher than the mind that insists that things make sense—they don’t and never will.

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