Monday, October 21, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 23, Part 3

Trey Smith

"And as for those two you mentioned -Yao and Shun - how are they worthy to be singled out for praise? With their nice distinctions they are like a man who goes around willfully poking holes in people's walls and fences and planting weeds and brambles in them, like a man who picks out which hairs of his head he intends to comb before combing it, who counts the grains of rice before he cooks them. Such bustle and officiousness - how can it be of any use in saving the age? Promote men of worth and the people begin trampling over each other; employ men of knowledge and the people begin filching from each other. Such procedures will do nothing to make the people ingenuous. Instead the people will only grow more diligent in their pursuit of gain, till there are sons who kill their fathers, ministers who kill their lords, men who filch at high noon, who bore holes through walls in broad daylight. I tell you, the source of all great confusion will invariably be found to lie right there with Yao and Shun! And a thousand generations later, it will still be with us. A thousand generations later - mark my word - there will be men who will eat each other up!"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
The problem with success is that it breeds envy. In a hierarchical society, it sets up a mad race to the top. If your prime goal in life is to attain the top of your particular molehill, you will do almost anything to get there. Rules and mores won't mean shit. You will knock over your own grandmother to claim first prize!

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

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