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