Stories from History: A Gentleman Should Be Amiable but Not Drift with the Current

Hong Yi

PureInsight | November 12, 2006

[] ZiLu asked Kong Zi:" Teacher, could you please tell me what the word "strong" means?"

KongZi asked him:" Did you ask the meaning of word "strong" as used in
Northern China or as used in Southern China or as used in your studies?"

ZiLu answered:" Are there any differences? "

KongZi said:" Of course they are different. You are generous and gentle
when teaching others. You do not take revenge when dealing with violent
people. People from Southern China consider these people as
strong.  Gentlemen usually have these characteristics.  A
person who uses a knife and armor as a pillow, who always keeps his
weapons with him, and who is not afraid of death, is considered as
strong by the people from Northern China. People who are hardened
belong to this group."

ZiLu asked again:" Teacher, which kind of strong is it that I should learn?"

KongZi said: "Gentlemen can be amiable, but can't drift with current.
This is the real strength. In order to be like that, gentlemen should
strictly follow the "doctrine of the mean."  When the government
is liberal, gentlemen should keep the same good character as when he
was poor. When the government is tyrannical without virtue, gentlemen
should not change their beliefs even facing death. This is called the
true strength."

The traditional Chinese culture emphasizes that a person should persist
in his view and principles instead of following the trend.  A
person should have a firm faith in his valuable goal. Only then can he
overcome all hardships, march forward courageously and fulfill his goal
with confidence and dauntless courage.

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