The wise man is not happy without the modulations of idea and thought; the rhetorician is not happy without the progression of argument and rebuttal; the examiner is not happy without the tasks of interrogation and intimidation. All are penned in by these things. Men who attract the attention of the age win glory at court; men who hit it off well with the people shine in public office; men of strength and sinew welcome hardship; men of bravery and daring are spurred on by peril; men of arms and armor delight in combat; men of haggard hermit looks reach out for fame; men of laws and regulations long for broader legislation; men of ritual and instruction revere appearances; men of benevolence and righteousness value human relationships. The farmer is not content if he does not have his work in the fields and weed patches; the merchant is not content if he does not have his affairs at the market place and wellside. The common people work hardest when they have their sunup to sundown occupations; the hundred artisans are most vigorous when they are exercising their skills with tools and machines. If his goods and coin do not pile up, the greedy man frets; if his might and authority do not increase, the ambitious man grieves. Servants to circumstance and things, they delight in change, and if the moment comes when they can put their talents to use, then they cannot keep from acting. In this way they all follow along with the turning years, letting themselves be changed by things. Driving their bodies and natures on and on, they drown in the ten thousand things, and to the end of their days never turn back. Pitiful, are they not?One of the reasons why a lot of people believe that the capitalist system is so "perfect" is that it is said that we humans are competitive, in nature, and so this system melds with who we are as a species. But just because we were born competitive does not mean that we cannot learn to embrace a communitarian outlook. Cooperation, not competition, brings out the humanity within us.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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