All is chaos under heaven

Have been revamping and updating my History notes on Southeast Asia for a new JC class I will be teaching in June. I was reading about Vietnamese communists’ activities before World War Two, and how the coming of the war proved a boon to the Vietnamese communists. In particular, this quote from Mao Zedong, commenting on the onset of war, caught my eye:

“All is chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent.”

Trust a shrewd and sharp politician like Mao to see the opportunities contained within a dangerous situation. In fact, he was said to break down the Chinese word for ‘crisis’, which is 危机, into its component words. 危 refers to the dangers and risks inherent to a crisis situation, but at the same time,机 suggests that there could be opportunities to be exploited within the danger as well. In fact, Mao was to evoke this philosophy again when he ordered Chinese troops to cross the Yalu River to repel the American ‘invaders’ during the Korean War in 1950.

Speaking of chaos under heaven, interestingly I was watching the movie ‘Confucius’ at home the other night, and I was surprised to see Confucius portrayed as – in addition to being a philosopher, sage and teacher – a military strategist also! Pouring burning oil down castle walls, faking the appearance of a larger army than he had, at times I wondered if I was watching Zhuge Liang in Three Kingdoms at work. =) But the movie was redeemed (in my humble opinion) by Zhou Xun, who was oh-so-good in her role as the sultry succubus of the empress of a lecherous duke. =)

What makes a virtuous man?


~ by irwin on May 21, 2010.

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