Don’t Do to Others What You Don’t Want Done to You—Confucius’ Wisdom on Chinese New Year

Don’t want to be abused? Don’t abuse others.

Don’t want to be ripped off? Don’t steal from anyone.

It’s Confucius’ version of the Golden Rule penned years before Jesus was born.

Maybe that’s the wisest way to conduct our lives.

I hope to be free of abusers and yet I must not stoop to the Machiavellian ethic that the ends justify the means. Then the prince of this world is my master and I become a danger to myself and others because living by that ethic is suicidal.

It means I have followed the prince of darkness into his abyss of annihilation. And I am not interested in that path.

I believe in procedural due process, as I am an American, but the world’s court system may never bring me justice. It hasn’t so far.

I have been raped, molested, defamed and ripped off a number of times and no one has done anything to apprehend the perpetrators.

It’s alright.

I am just determined not to turn into what others have projected onto me. I am not a danger to myself or others and remain committed to a path of non-violent non-cooperation with injustice.

Sometimes the best I can do is just offer it up and know that the Order of the Universe has not failed to note what’s happened to me. I get to learn how to turn adversity into the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit, as Napoleon Hill teaches. And I have plenty of manure to fertilize that seed.

Maybe that’s why I wrote on my statement of purpose for Stanford that I wanted to go from literal muckraking to the literary type. And that line got me my full fellowship to graduate school there. The professor in charge of admissions told me so.

So being kicked out of my parents’ house and being homeless and living in my bosses’ front room on the floor while a stablehand, was a great blessing. And maybe that plant will finally take root from the seed.

It’s been plucked as a weed so many times, because it just doesn’t seem very viable. So it just died.

But there are plenty of seeds left to sprout. I have no shortage. And today I celebrate that fact and the advice of Elie Abel who was then the head of the department at Stanford and former New York Times editor: learn about and follow China. That’s the future.

I have a copy of the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine. I opened to the page titled The Art of Acupuncture and read the following: “in handling the needle, hold it as if holding the tiger—firmly grasped and in control.”

My New Year begins thusly in the Year of the Tiger. And the needle of my moral compass remains Confucian. Perhaps the Emperor has new clothes, as well and is garbed in a cloth of golden ruled vestments. It’s an investment in health to study his classic work.

He was a wiser ruler than many today who think they know how to heal the nations. The wealth of nations hangs in the balance and yet most are clueless compared to the ancient Emperor. Time for me to follow Abel counsel.

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