Monday, January 25, 2010

Wen Tzu - Verse 135, Part II

from Verse One Hundred Thirty-Five
When modesty and conscience decline, eventually society degenerates. Then there are many demands and few goods; people work hard without being able to make a sufficient living. The populace is poor and miserable, so anger and contention arise; this is why humaneness is valued. People are debased and unequal, cliques and factions each push for their own interests, hearts full of machinations and cunning deceptions; this is why justice is valued.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
If we look at the world today, there is an ever-widening chasm between the opulence of the well-to-do and the rest of the people on this planet. Here, in the US, real wages have fallen or have been stagnant for more than a decade and many pundits bemoan the fact that the American middle class may soon be extinct.

But while we Americans lament the ills of our economic situation, our pains pale in comparison with our fellow human beings in many parts of the world. There are people today in Central America, Africa, China and Pakistan (to name a scant few) who toil their lives away making consumer goods for the west while earning pennies per day! They live in squalor and scratch about for food. They live a life with little hope for a better day.

If we in the west truly believe in the ideals of humaneness and justice, then it is incumbent on us to alter OUR lifestyles so that we don't engender the alienation and subjugation of others. If we are unwilling to change, then the blood of those who make our modern lifestyle possible will continue to stain our hands.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. This reminds me of a tale I just read (not sure where). I think it is Confucian. A peasant is suffering, laboring hard for so little all day, but he says he sleeps like a king at night. (He's exhausted.) The landlord has a glorius life, full of riches, but can't sleep at night. (For worrying about maintaining his wealth.) Confucius suggests that the landlord back off a little on his demands of the peasant, to be content with a little less, making the peasant's daily grind a little easier. Then they both have enough, and they both sleep well!

  2. That's a grand little story! Too bad we can't get implemented. :) It would solve many of the world's problems.


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