Some people have accused me of being a sage. Granted, I am a lao tzu (i.e., 老子 – father, old man), but a sage? While this may feel flattering at first, further pondering shatters that. Besides, it actually takes a real sage to know a real sage. What we see ‘out there’ is simply a reflection of ‘in here’. Put simply, we only see what we need or fear to see; we only truly understand what we already know. For example, I am sure those who followed Hitler thought him to be a sage of sorts.
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.