I just finished A Thousand Pieces of Gold by Adeline Yen Mah. It tells the story of the first few emperors of China and the Chinese proverbs those stories spawned. The book was fantastic, both informative and engaging. But its tales of history were framed with the author’s twisted and sad reflections on her family life. Despite loving the book, those family stories made me dislike the author.
Mah gives an account of the duplicitous actions of her step mother, her oldest sister, and her older brother. She explains that everyone schemed against her. And in presenting her own sad tale in the backdrop of Chinese history, she asserts that life is a series of machinations and betrayal. I emphatically disagree. In fact, I think the people that imagine enemies and ulterior motives are the very ones that create a toxic atmosphere.
The real question I am today asking myself is if our future is better by acknowledging the games people play and becoming better at them. Or are these games self-defeating? Would our lives and ambitions be more fulfilled if we spoke directly and honestly and assumed others were doing the same? Certainly our lives would be simpler if this were true.
The past few weeks have seen a lot of disagreement over the South China Sea by the countries that border it. This waterway connects China to europe, Africa, middle east. And it has been identified as a potential rich source of oil, natural gas, rare earth minerals. The Paracel and Spratly islands, sprinkled throughout the sea, command the region. Sometimes multiple countries claim ownership of the islands. The water that surrounds them is hotly contested.