Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 14, Part 9

Trey Smith

"Thus it is that the rituals and regulations of the Three August Ones and the Five Emperors are prized not because they were uniform, but because they were capable of bringing about order. The rituals and regulations of the Three August Ones and the Five Emperors may be compared to the haw, the pear, the orange, and the citron. Their flavors are quite different, yet all are pleasing to the mouth. Rituals and regulations are something that change in response to the times. If you take a monkey and dress him in the robes of the Duke of Chou, he will bite and tear at them, not satisfied until he has divested himself of every stitch. And a glance will show that past and present are no more alike than are a monkey and the Duke of Chou!

"The beautiful Hsi-shih, troubled with heartburn, frowned at her neighbors. An ugly woman of the neighborhood, seeing that Hsi-shih was beautiful, went home and likewise pounded her breast and frowned at her neighbors. But at the sight of her the rich men of the neighborhood shut tight their gates and would not venture out, while the poor men grabbed their wives and children by the hand and scampered off. The woman understood that someone frowning could be beautiful, but she did not understand where the beauty of the frown came from. A pity, indeed! Your master is going to end up in trouble!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Changing with the times! This is a concept that goes a long way toward defining differences in political perspective. In general, conservatives like to hold onto the "old ways." As society progresses, they want to apply the rules of bygone eras. Liberals, on the other hand, recognize that the old rules may have been a good fit for the different circumstances of the past, but since those circumstances have changed or evolved, the rules must change or evolve too.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

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