A lonely voice

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子曰:「狂而不直,侗而不愿,悾悾而不信,吾不知之矣。」
Confucius said: “People who are reckless and insincere; ignorant and irresponsible; naïve and untrustworthy: I simply don’t understand them.”

Judging by his comment here, it’s no wonder that Confucius so spectacularly failed to achieve his goal of gaining a high-level government position.

By its very nature politics attracts more than its fair share of, shall we say, colorful characters. Even if Confucius didn’t “understand such people” he would have needed to hold his nose and figure out how to get along with them in order to be successful – not necessarily by compromising his principles but by finding common points of agreement with them.

For all its vaunted principles, politics is the art of the possible after all.

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