Monday, August 27, 2007

The more things change...

Over 2,000 years ago, Chinese poets wrote words in the Shi Jing that aptly describe the Bush Administration:

The angry terrors of Compassionate Heaven,
Extend through this lower world ;
[The king's] counsels and plans are crooked and bad ; –
When will he stop [in the course] ?
Counsels which are good he will not follow,
And those which are not good he employs,
When I look at his counsels and plans,
I am greatly pained.

In fact, they describe Republicans and Democrats in general.

Now they agree, and now they defame one another ; –
The case is greatly to be deplored.
If a counsel be good,
They all are found opposing it.
If a counsel be bad,
They all are found according with it.
When I look at such counsels and plans,
What will they come to ?

Our tortoises are wearied out,
And will not tell us anything about the plans.
The counsellors are very many,
But on that account nothing is accomplished.
The speakers fill the court,
But who dares to take any responsibility on himself ?
We are as if we consulted [about a journey] without taking a step in advance,
And therefore did not get on on the road.

Alas ! our formers of plans,
Do not take the ancients for their pattern,
And do not regulate them by great principles.
They only hearken to shallow words,
And quarrel about shallow words,
They are like one taking counsel with wayfarers about building a house.
Which will consequently never come to completion.

Although the kingdom be unsettled,
There are some who are wise, and others who are not.
Although the people may not be numerous,
Some have perspicacity, some have counsel,
Some have gravity, and some have orderliness.
But we are going on like the stream flowing from a spring,
And will sink together in a common ruin.

They dare not without weapons attack a tiger ;
They dare not without a boat cross the He.
They know one thing,
But they only know that one.
We should be apprehensive and careful,
As if we were on the brink of a deep gulf,
As if we were treading on thin ice.

(Translation by James Legge)

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