Some people have accused me of being a sage. Sure, I am a lao tzu (i.e., 老子 – father, old man), but a sage? As they say, he who points one finger of accusation has four others pointing back at him, i.e., what we see ‘out there’ is simply a reflection of ‘in here’. We see what we need to see; we understand what we already know. In this case, it takes a sage to know a sage. Now while that may feel flattering at first, further pondering shatters that. For example, I am sure those who followed Hitler thought him to be a sage.
This really boils down to the blind leading the blind. Blind social instinct connects people together… to each other and to their heroic leaders. The social need to fit in, to conform to our cultural hierarchy, our tribe, blinds us. We love — need — our heroes; we hate — fear — our villains. Love is blind, and so are fear and hate. Perhaps our lack of awareness of this blindness is why chapter 19 bluntly says, Exterminate the sage, discard the wise, And the people will benefit a hundredfold.