This is an essay by Professor Sheng Hong dedicated to the Foreword of Unirule Yearbook 2018, and also the 2019 New Year Expectations Forum that Unirule Institute of Economics holds every year for scholars to express their hopes and visions for a better Chinese society.
The past year has been the most difficult in Unirule history. It has been one obstacle after another, leaving us barely any time to catch our breath. People might wonder, is there still god? The answer is, yes. Then why have there been all these hardships? The answer is, for people to be happy. If you think about it, isn’t it easier for god to just grant us an ideal society? He believes the most fulfilling thing is for people to enjoy the process to an ideal society. Therefore, He must give us but an unideal society in order to make us feel fulfilled once we make it an ideal society with our own efforts.
This is the way to be. We respond to bad faith with good faith, violence with rule of law, and we enlighten good conscience with good conscience. We not only defend our own rights, but by doing so get others to know about their own rights. We are but a small creature, but the Tao(or Heaven’s Way) that we defend is limitless and grand. We have also accomplished our mission in weathering these hardships. We are proud of ourselves.
There have been wise men who got a glimpse of Heaven’s will. Confucius advocated “the conduct of the scholar”, which is essentially the aesthetics of conducts. He said “he(the scholar) guards against death that he may be in waiting (for whatever he may be called to); he attends well to his person that he may be ready for action”. That is to say, “man lives to act”. “To act” means to fight for an ideal society, which is an act of beauty.
As Mr. Zhang Taiyan sees it, it is not a very good thing to see things work out so easily. He said, “for example, as the Xinhai Revolution was a lucky success, and a speedy one, many of those revolutionary elites were not tested, and the true talents were not easy to show.” The harder it is to succeed, the more efforts it takes, the more heroic the act is.
Last year was merely a more difficult obstacle. We have worked hard to push forward a couple of causes, such as the promise to cut tax, to appease the private enterprises, to advocate for the law making for the transaction and development rights of the collectively-owned rural lands, and to expose the judicial scandals. These achievements are our rewards, they are also something to be proud of.
In the coming new year, we do not know whether the hardships will be increased or mitigated. This is not ours to say, nor does it matter. What matters is that we know we shall live to act. What we can determine is to “attends well to our persons that we may be ready for action”.
January 23rd, 2019