Sunday, 6 October 2019

The World belongs to Society

天下為公 (Tien ha wei kung) Under the skies, the people, or the world belongs to society.  In kindergarten we were taught about the First Emperor whose big acheivement was to unite the country.  But we were also taught, even then, that he burned the books of learning including The Book of Rites, from which this quotation comes. So as kids aged 5 we learned that morality and culture are greater than individual power : you can win the battle but lose the war. Confucian values are not a bad thing.  Two thousand years later Dr Sun Yatsen quoted the phrase : it's the background to his San Mun Ju I, the Three People's Principles :  民族主義, that the people even in a  nation with hundreds of different minorities, have values in common.  民權主義 the rights of the people to be part of governance, and 民生主義 the concept that government should serve the community.  Basically the message is : deny culture and history, you're in trouble.  In the short term denial might be expedient, but long term, self hate is self harm, and corrosive. Fifty years ago, the Red Guards attacked learning (and Confucius). Like the First Emperor, they didn't last. 

No comments: