Living people are soft and tender
Corpses are hard and stiff
The living grass, the trees, are soft and pliant
Dead they’re dry and brittle
So hardness and stiffness go with death
Tenderness, softness go with life
And the hard sword fails
The stiff tree is felled
The hard and great go under
The soft and weak stay up.
–Tao Te Ching Chapter 76
Is this strange idea the way the world really works? Though it’s a comforting thought for those of us who aren’t “hard and great,” it often seems the hardest of people are ruling, while the soft are ground underfoot. But lately I’ve seen that people who seem beaten down and hopeless can indeed prevail, if they are flexible and resilient. They may suffer for years or generations, but they stay up, even triumph.