The Secret Piano : bu de liao

Eglon Van der Neer,
v. 1665, huile sur toile,
Metropolitan Musuem of Art
New York

It is understandable that the Chinese people wish to turn the page on those dark times and finally lead normal lives. I think, however, there is a deeper source for this attitude, which is their concept of life. It can be found in the first great Chinese book of philosophical thought, the I Ching. Its title – known in English as The Book of Changes – says it all. Life is a continual process of transformation, and it is this process of change that we should honor, rather than a return to the past. Criminal acts are not forgotten, but a sort of natural justice that only the passage of time can bring about eventually supplants human justice. Chinese philosophers have an expression for this : bu de liao – knowing when to leave tie past behind, instead of endlessly seeking revenge. 
On the other hand, the absence of  criminal justice is evidence of a profound weakness. The trials that followed World War Two immensely buttressed the West's resolve: by enshrining the the principle of "Never again !" Western nations encouraged a sense of vigilance. They strengthened universal moral standards and forged new ones, all of them designed to prevent, now and forever, the return of the Hydra.


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