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« More on Sunzi, Torture, and Political Leadership | Main | Lin Xiling and the Necessity of Dissent »

January 28, 2013


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thanks for this. sad to think about the innocent people who have yet to die before the 'cowboys' in this country choose to lay down their arms.

Well written and insightful.

Another translation I have of #31 is as follows:

Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.

Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn't wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.


He is grave and with compassion, for he is attending a funeral--a funeral of a fellow being each time he must carry a weapon or even think about using it.

Imagine if people could maintain humane restraint, avoiding the use of weapons unless, as the TTC describes, "in direst" circumstances. Imagine if people could clearly recognize what is truly dire, and not simply knee-jerk into the grip of a gun.

I think you should do another blog post on the number of murders per year in a selection of countries.

The graph about guns is good, but what about knives?

"But that ignores the prior point that state power-holders themselves should not rely upon weapons."

Unfortunately, gun control legislation will do naught towards this problem. But I think what you said here illuminates an important point--that discussion over whether the government should be allowed to have guns almost never happens. And if "government" is nothing more than an abstraction for a group of individuals, then what "gun control" really means is people with guns telling other people with guns they aren't allowed to have them. If we want to truly discuss the necessity of the tools of violence in society through the lens of the Daodejing, the government is the first place to look.

The entire discourse smacks of "salvation by legislation", and, to me, that is the *real* impoverished view of society.

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