A long and lonely road


Zengzi said: “A scholar-official must be strong and resolute because his burden is heavy and his road is long. He takes goodness as his burden: is this not heavy? His journey ends only with death: is this not long?”

The character士 (shì) has been variously translated as official, knight, and scholar, and refers to members of the thriving middle class that was emerging during the Spring and Autumn period and taking positions in government, business, military, and politics.

As Zengzi points here, such a man must be much more than a mere bureaucrat, scholar, or knight: he has a moral responsibility to strive for the betterment of himself and society throughout his lifetime.

Perhaps if Confucius and Zengzi hadn’t made the road sound so long and lonely, more individuals would have attempted to walk down it.

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