‘Seeing is easy, learning is hard’ – old Chinese proverb.
I might abhor the Chinese predilection for medicines that require powdered rhino horn and the slaughter of endangered species, but there is still much to admire in their ancient culture, their resilience in the face of a traumatic history, and their ability to innovate.
The Middle Kingdom, Zhongguo or Tschin or Da Qin – the People’s Republic of China is the third-largest nation in the world in land area and has the largest population. It has the longest continuously recorded history and has given the world some of the most significant scientific and technological inventions.
‘Everything in the past died yesterday; everything in the future was born today.’ – wisdom of Kung Fu master.
According to the world view of ancient China, the Middle Kingdom lay precisely below the centre of the firmament. The further you were from here, the lower in the cosmic hierarchy. The unfortunate people and cultures living on the dark peripheries of the earth were considered barbarians. Until more enlightened times, the westerners thought much the same about the far east.
‘In painting the tiger, you may delineate his skin but not his bones; in your acquaintance with a man, you may know his face but not his heart.’ - wisdom of Kung Fu master.
It was supposedly Napoleon who warned, ‘Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world’, alluding to China. As we know, in recent years there’s been no doubt that China is wide awake, an already formidable power for the new millennium, intent on perhaps dominating world commerce. This is a remarkable transformation for such an ancient country that has historically focused inward.
‘Read a few more books and talk a little less.’ – Chang Chao.
Perhaps the dark days under Mao are now merely shadows in the past. It’s too early to say.
I’ll conclude with a jewel of a truism from the Inscription on the temple of Everlasting Harmony: ‘A gem is not polished without rubbing nor a man perfected without trials.’ I think this can be applied to real individuals, male and female, as well as characters in our fiction.
Happy New Year!
Bullets for a Ballot by Nik Morton (BTAP Publishing)
Old Guns by Ross Morton (Robert Hale)