July 15, 2010

Master Kung

I mentioned Confucius in yesterday's post, so I might as well fess up to re-reading The Analects, a collection of sayings and anecdotes by and about this ancient Chinese sage.

It has often been observed that there are two poles in traditional Chinese thought, the Taoist and the Confucian. The Taoism expressed by Lao Tzu emphasizes simplicity and living according to nature, while Confucian thought emphasizes ritual, courtesy, and social and familial responsibilities.

The former is a bit anarchic while the latter is all about social order. It has been said that in traditional Chinese society, a gentleman might be Confucian in his public life and Taoist in his private affairs.

I generally lean towards Taoism, but have a soft spot for Confucius. This may be because one of the first places I really felt at home was a traditional karate dojo, which is kind of miniature Confucian society. A good dojo is a very hierarchical and totally undemocratic place, but one where people observe strict rules of mutual respect and courtesy. It is expected that junior students should show respect to seniors and to the teacher and that seniors and teachers had a responsibility to assist the juniors, with an overall goal of the mutual benefit and improvement of all.

There are worse kinds of places to be.

Over the next few posts, I may pass on a few of his ideas that have spoken to me over the years.

UPPER BIG BRANCH MINE DISASTER. Here's an initial report from the independent investigative team appointed by WV Governor Joe Manchin on Massey's April mine disaster. And here's a new report from NPR about a possibly serious UBB safety violation.

THE OTHER DISASTER. Here are some possible lessons from the Gulf mess.

SHRINKING PAYCHECK over several years are making the recession worse, as Robert Reich argues here.

EMOTIONS are contagious.


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