The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese text estimated to have been written in 400 B.C. by  Lao Tzu.

Tao Te Ching roughly translates to mean “the way of integrity”. The author’s name translates to “old master,” which likely means the author’s or authors’ name(s) are truly unknown.

The Tao Te Ching was written to teach us how to live in the world with goodness and wisdom.  It attempts to teach us that if we spend more time just practicing awareness than we do in trying to label things, we could see better the proper actions that we should take. Through our awareness, we will ultimately learn the proper action is to pursue peace within ourselves and share the power of peace with the world.

The Tao Te Ching is one of the most quoted texts ever — and for good reason! Here are a few of my favorites:

  • When content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, respect will find you.
  • The wise one is one who knows what one does not know
  • Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself
  • Countless words count less
  • Presuming to know is a disease. Realize you are sick; then you can move toward health

When I think about the Tao Te Ching in the context of #BlackBlogsMatter and the social justice movements of today, I am reminded of the importance of being aware of the climate of the world around us. We are lacking in goodness, wisdom and peace.  The labels we have placed on things have served to divide us and limit us more than unite us. Proper action has become a relative term that depends on the politics of the situation.

What is the Tao Te Woke?

Woke is still the common phase used to point out discriminatory behavior by people and institutions and it is also used to encourage people to be mindful of lowkey discriminatory behavior.

If the Tao Te Ching was to teach us how to live in the world with goodness and wisdom , the Tao Te Woke is to teach us how to live in a world without oppression and supremacy.

Only thru awareness and correction will we eliminate discriminatory behavior. Only thru calling-out bad behavior over and over again followed by harsh punishments will perpetrators realize their actions are no longer acceptable. Only thru removing  low-key and high-key supremacists from positions of power will we achieve equity and equality.

These efforts are the essence of the Tao Te Woke.

I’ll admit that it has been almost 20 years since I’ve sat down and really read the Tao. In addition to the quotes I mentioned earlier in this post, the one that  has stuck with me is …

Tao called Tao is not Tao

Other translations of this same quote are …

  • The trodden Tao is not the enduring and unchanging Tao
  • The name that can be named is not the name
  • If you can talk about it, it ain’t it

Wokeness is becoming much the same.

It’s become a watered-down version of itself, almost to the point of needing another word.

NEWSFLASH: If you are walking around constantly declaring how Woke you are and how non-Woke everyone else is or how much more Woke they need to become, you’re doing it wrong.

Wokeness is not meant to be used as a weapon. Wokeness is not a competition.

Woke called woke is not woke.

The Tao Te Ching encourages us to focus on self-awareness before focusing on bringing awareness to others.

The Tao Te Woke encourages us to focus on the self-awareness of our blind spots  and our privileges.  Because we all have them.

The more we become aware and the more we learn to check our privilege, the more Woke we become. The more we check our privilege and use it to amplify the voices of the disadvantaged instead of for personal gain, the more Woke we become. The more we use our power to help others uncover and gain theirs, the more Woke we become.

We will all make mistakes along the way. We will think, say and do wrong things. We  will learn that we don’t know as much as we think we know. We will discover there’s room for more knowledge and wisdom. We will realize Wokeness is a call to action.

But we must never forget that we are all at different levels in this journey.

Yes, there are levels to Wokeness.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 to learn what they are.