Bob Schwartz

In America It’s Now Every Man, Woman and Child for Themselves

The founders of America had a dream, fueled by the Enlightenment and by what we might call Christian realism about how people really are.

It would be ideal to depend on the kindness of strangers, but experience has shown that strangers cannot always be relied on and are not always kind. Instead, as a national community, we are committed—by the Constitution those founders hammered out—to “promote the general welfare.”

With many ups and downs, and some real gaps, that has generally worked out during the first two centuries of that American dream. Those days may not be over, but the founding principle is under serious, if not existential, threat.

The Shutdown is just one example, but a glaring one. At best, Trump and his cohort believe that forcing federal workers to work without pay will be taken care of by the private sector. At worst and most likely, they just don’t care.

America has tried political philosophies that leaned to individual self-help and more limited government. But never before has the governing philosophy (if you can call it that) literally pushed Americans—Americans working for other Americans—into forced labor and economic hardship.

Welcome to Trump America, where it’s every man, woman and child for themselves.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

“Humpty dumpty” was eighteenth-century slang for a short and clumsy person. (Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English)


Through the Looking Glass (Alice in Wonderland), Chapter 6

However, the egg only got larger and larger, and more and more human: when she had come within a few yards of it, she saw that it had eyes and a nose and mouth; and when she had come close to it, she saw clearly that it was Humpty Dumpty himself….

‘And how exactly like an egg he is!’ she said aloud, standing with her hands ready to catch him, for she was every moment expecting him to fall.

‘It’s very provoking,’ Humpty Dumpty said after a long silence, looking away from Alice as he spoke, ‘to be called an egg — very!’

‘I said you looked like an egg, Sir,’ Alice gently explained. ‘And some eggs are very pretty, you know’ she added, hoping to turn her remark into a sort of a compliment.

‘Some people,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking away from her as usual, ‘have no more sense than a baby!’…

‘What a beautiful belt you’ve got on!’ Alice suddenly remarked.

(They had had quite enough of the subject of age, she thought: and if they really were to take turns in choosing subjects, it was her turn now.) ‘At least,’ she corrected herself on second thoughts, ‘a beautiful cravat, I should have said — no, a belt, I mean — I beg your pardon!’ she added in dismay, for Humpty Dumpty looked thoroughly offended, and she began to wish she hadn’t chosen that subject. ‘If I only knew,’ the thought to herself, ‘which was neck and which was waist!’

Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry, though he said nothing for a minute or two. When he did speak again, it was in a deep growl.

‘It is a — most — provoking — thing,’ he said at last, ‘when a person doesn’t know a cravat from a belt!’

‘I know it’s very ignorant of me,’ Alice said, in so humble a tone that Humpty Dumpty relented.

‘It’s a cravat, child, and a beautiful one, as you say….

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

Brightness (Li)

Hexagram 30


Li • Brightness

The structure of the gua is Fire above, Fire below. The attribute of Fire is attachment as well as brightness. When two Fire gua are combined, the Brightness is doubled. During times of darkness and danger people should cling to one another. When they do, things get brighter.

Decision

Brightness.
Favorable to be steadfast and upright.
Prosperous and smooth.

SIGNIFICANCE

The attribute of Li is brightness, which symbolizes intelligence and wisdom. Being embarrassed by unresolved problems feels like falling into darkness. Finding a solution is compared to a light that casts out the darkness. This gua, Brightness, sheds light upon the distinction between right and wrong. If one’s attitude is not sincere and wholehearted, one is not able to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate.

Master Alfred Huang, The Complete I Ching


Li • Radiance

Inexhaustible and penetrating everywhere, radiance brings forth wild bounty. Nurture it like the docile strength of an ox, and good fortune will prevail.

Radiance is all beauty, beauty of heaven’s sun and moon, beauty of the land’s hundred grains and grasses and trees.

Sun and moon, fire and fire—using the beauty at the hinge of things, they transform and perfect all beneath heaven. And because the tender assent of this beauty is centered at the very hinge of things, it penetrates everywhere. And so: nurture it like the docile strength of an ox, and good fortune will prevail.

David Hinton, I Ching: The Book of Change


Li • Fire

Sun and Moon
Are attached to Heaven.
The Hundred Grains,
The grasses and trees,
Are attached to Earth,
To the soil.
Double Brightness
Is attached to Truth,
Truth
Which transforms and perfects
All-under-Heaven.

This Hexagram is formed by doubling the Li Trigram: Fire, Light, and Sun: also warmth, radiance, and clarity; Outer and Inner Illumination; and Attachment.

What is Illumination? It is the ability to see “with continuous clarity” the original Strength or Essence of things. This Vision itself comes from Inner Strength, from Sincerity at the Center of Being, reaching out and connecting with the outside, with “the Four Quarters.” Nothing can deceive it. It sees things as they are. It sees that everything, everywhere, to left and right, is the Tao, Connected, Attached. Illumination itself spreads like Fire. It is a chain reaction. Fire is not a substance, it is an event, an interaction.

John Minford, I Ching: The Book of Change


Li • The Clinging, Fire

What is dark clings to what is light and so enhances the brightness of the latter. A luminous thing giving out light must have within itself something that perseveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out. Everything that gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may continue to shine.

Thus sun and moon cling to heaven, and grain, grass, and trees cling to the earth. So too the twofold clarity of the dedicated man clings to what is right and thereby can shape the world. Human life on earth is conditioned and unfree, and when man recognizes this limitation and makes himself dependent upon the harmonious and beneficent forces of the cosmos, he achieves success. The cow is the symbol of extreme docility. By cultivating in himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence, man acquires clarity without sharpness and finds his place in the world.

Each of the two trigrams represents the sun in the course of a day. The two together represent the repeated movement of the sun, the function of light with respect to time. The great man continues the work of nature in the human world. Through the clarity of his nature he causes the light to spread farther and farther and to penetrate the nature of man ever more deeply.

Wilhelm/Banes, The I Ching or Book of Changes