Friday, June 28, 2013

Up Close and Personal

Heaven is high and the emperor is far away. Never mind the historical roots of this Chinese saying—or how it was once used and understood. I’m after the flavor of it in its more positive sense—namely how we ought to be able to experience governance. In our own day and age, and precisely because governance is supposedly rising up from the people—and therefore millions must be persuaded to give power to the would-be rulers—heaven is oppressively low and the emperor is up close and personal. All this is supposedly a marker of our freedom; but it now appears that the only real use of freedom is to engage in politics. Strikes me that the Chinese saying also arises from freedom. It is most likely to be felt when heaven is high and the emperor distant.

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