Notes from the field: happy Xmas from Taipei!

Happy Xmas from Taipei

Happy Xmas from Taipei and best wishes for the year ahead! Let’s hope that it will be an improvement on this one.

More by serendipity than design, I have managed to complete all my Leadership Lessons posts for Book 14 of the Analects just in time for the festive season. However, given that I had originally planned to complete Book 15 by the end of the year, I am not exactly in the mood to pop open the champagne!

Hoped is probably a better word than planned, because I completely underestimated the amount of work that would be required to research the historical and contemporary figures that fill Book 14. Not that I’m complaining, though, because this has given me an amazing opportunity to delve deeper into the political, social, and technological dynamics that generated the constant turbulence that roiled the Spring and Autumn period that Confucius lived in. Now wonder he, and other scholars and officials like him, dedicated their time, energy, and brainpower towards coming up with ideas on how to restore peace and stability to the nation.

No wonder, too, that towering figures like Duke Huan of Qi and his chief minister Guan Zhong emerged to impose their authority over their own states and others using a mixture of sensible economic and administrative reforms, brazen political chicanery, and sheer brute force.

Despite all the obvious violations of his moral code that these men committed, Confucius remains remarkably restrained with his criticisms of them in Book 14 – preferring to highlight their virtues and achievements rather than condemn them outright. His subtle and nuanced comments in the book show that for all his moral preaching, Confucius was a pragmatist as well who was willing to overlook even the most egregious acts if he determined that someone was working towards what he perceived as the greater good.

My new goal is to finish my writings on Book 14 in time for the arrival of the Lunar New Year of the Ox on February 12. Let’s see how that goes!

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