Archive for November, 2007

Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life – 5

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

(“Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

Of course, in traditional China, back in the old days, it was of utmost importance to educated people that they were honest and trustworthy. “Without trustworthiness a person has no standing (人無信不立).” Promises were considered things a Good Man must keep: “A promise from a Good Man is worth a thousand ounces of gold (君子一諾千金).” There were many moving stories of people in traditional China who made big sacrifices to carry out their promises.

Of course, honesty and keeping promises was legendary among traditional Chinese merchants and businessmen back in the old days. One mutual salute (they didn’t shake hands back then) and the deal was as good as gold. That trustworthiness and integrity had been one big factor why Chinese businessmen had been so successful in Southeast Asia.

Yes, when a country is rich and powerful, as China has been back in the old days, its people tend to be honest and trustworthy. Of course, that’s because the people being honest is a major factor, perhaps even the decisive factor, in enabling the country to be rich in the first place.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design


Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life – 4

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

(”Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

One thing that has struck me living in the US versus living in Canada is that in the US people generally place more value on honesty in their everyday dealings and in their outlook. For example, during the impeachment of President Clinton, most Americans I talked to, even strong Democrats, were quite incensed that President Clinton had been dishonest during the investigation of his sex scandal. It was very instructive: people were not angry at his sex scandal but at his attempts to mislead. In contrast, during the Quebec Liberal government corruption scandal in Canada, in response to the outcry from the opposition parties, Prime Minister Chretien came right out in public and said to the media, “So we tried to cover up some bribes, so what?!” And Canadians thought that it was fine to have a little dishonesty as long as it helped fight Quebec separatism. Another example is the way people view professional hockey: there’s a lot of fighting, illegal checking from the back, and other such non-rule-abiding behavior that have been very important to winning in professional hockey. Professional hockey is immensely popular in Canada, and most Canadian hockey fans I’ve talked to say that fighting and illegal checking is part of the sport. On the other hand, professional hockey is not very popular in the US because Americans can’t stand all that fighting and rule breaking. In fact, to get hockey to become more popular in the US, back in the 1990’s professional hockey have made a lot of rule changes such that fights and illegal checking are now much rarer. Thanks to the US market, the once commonplace “bench-clearing” fights, where everyone on both teams come onto the ice to fight, have now disappeared. Moreover, in day-to-day dealings with people, with businesses, with institutions, I’ve found that people in the US are stricter about honesty, especially people who are more educated and have higher social status.

Why is that? It got me thinking. I think it’s because the US is the country with the most free-market leaning ideology in the world. Now in free markets people make a living by providing service or merchandise to their customers, not by fawning upon some politically powerful figure, getting into his good graces, and then having him give you some kind of lordship over economic resources, as happens in command economies and socialistic countries. Therefore in market economies one must be trustworthy, sell honest merchandise and charge honest prices, not taking advantage of even the very aged or the very young. Only then can there be exchange of equal values, exchange of mutual benefit, and prosperity and wealth in the society as a whole. If one uses trickery and deception to cheat others of the fruits of their sweat and toil, instead of using one’s own sweat and toil to create concrete benefits with which to exchange with others for the fruits of their sweat and toil, then how can the market continue? The market order will be destroyed, as will prosperity and the whole social order. That’s why free markets value honesty and despise dishonesty.

That’s why honesty is especially important for success and happiness for people who live in market economies.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文



Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life – 3

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

edited Nov. 22, 2007

(”Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

Some people ask, you keep talking about honesty leading to success and happiness, but don’t you get fleeced and stabbed in the back if you are too honest? Ah yes! Isn’t the honest person the one who is poor? Doesn’t it take some deviousness, if not outright deceit, to become rich and successful?

No, no, being honest doesn’t mean that one will get fleeced. Being honest doesn’t mean one doesn’t perform due diligence and checking things out before one buys something. And how does one check things out? It’s easy in countries with a free market: you just go out and do some shopping around! Get some bids! There’s an old Chinese saying: not to fear that you do not know the merchandise, just compare merchandise with merchandise (不怕不識貨,只要貨比貨). Once you do some comparison shopping, you will know whether something is worth it or not.

And being honest doesn’t mean you tell everyone in the world your trade secrets and your weaknesses. Being honest means you don’t lie to people, but doesn’t mean you can’t keep secrets. How can a person be trustworthy if he can’t even safeguard some secrets? So, what do you do when someone asks you about something you don’t want to tell them and still be honest with them? Simple, be honest, and tell them, “Sorry, but that’s confidential.” Or, “Sorry, but I can’t tell you.” Just be honest and tell them the truth; don’t be afraid that will offend them, but be sure to be polite and apologize; people will respect you for your honesty even if they are miffed at your refusal. At least you have been polite and you have apologized! They surely should understand, and if they are so mean-minded that they take offense, they are probably not upright people anyways and therefore not worthwhile dealing with. There’s no need to be “devious,” nor is there need to be deceitful and lie. In a country where people rely on the free market, such honesty is valued as a sign of reliability, as a sign that the person is “good to deal with.”

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design


Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life – 2

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

edited Nov. 22, 2007

(”Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

Now let us look at why honesty leads to success and happiness in life.

It’s all because the fundamental feature of human society is mutual help. Thus, to be as successful as one’s ability warrants, one must maximize both the help one gives to others and the help others give to one. Of course, a lot of this occurs as buying and selling, including the buying and selling of labor, i.e. going to work for an employer, and a lot of this occurs as non-monetary mutual help among family and friends.

No matter, for the mutual help to be maximized, one must give an open and complete picture of what one can offer. Only thus can one maximize one’s “customers,” whether monetary or non-monetary, whether stranger, acquaintance, friend, relative or family.

Only thus then can one maximize one’s return, again whether monetary or not. When one helps others, others will help one. With monetary mutual help things are priced beforehand with each exchange, with non-monetary mutual help among friends and family things are fixed beforehand as part of the Cardinal Obligations (see my blogs Mar. 2 – April 5, 2007). Either way, for others to help us maximally, they must be able to see clearly what our needs are. Only by being open and honest with them can they best help us.

It’s a mutual help world out there, and to be as successful and happy as one’s ability warrants, one must be honest.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文



Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life - 1

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

edited Nov. 22, 2007

(”Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

Why should one be honest? Well, it’s because honesty leads to success and happiness. Huh? Someone asks. Isn’t it by being “tricky” (古惑) that one gets what one wants? Aiya! No, no, of course not!

Yes, the worldview that the world is all about tricking others, a variant of the dog-eat-dog worldview, leads to nothing but failure and unhappiness in life.

Being tricky and using deceit is OK for temporary gain only, and in the long haul the more you trick and take advantage of people, the fewer friends you make, and therefore eventually you will end up being unsuccessful, friendless and miserable.

True, among people who believe in this worldview of deceit, those who actually go out and lie and cheat are only a minority. Even for the majority, however, even for who refrain from trickery and cheating, this worldview is no less harmful.

Such people, who often, sadly, consider themselves more honest than most, are frequently bitter and complain that the reason they are not successful in life despite their ability (technical ability, that is, not moral ability) is that they are too honest and not tricky enough. Sigh! They do not realize that the very reason they are not as successful as their ability warrants is precisely because they have not been honest enough. For one thing, with such a worldview these people are never completely up front with others. Thus when others are able to help say, advance a career to a level more commensurate with the ability, they are never given the chance because people with such a worldview are ever so coy about their situation. Also, people with such a worldview are forever suspicious of others when they try to help, and so when others try to help they are eventually forced to give up in frustration. Yes, repeat that time and time again, throughout life, and one naturally ends up being unsuccessful, or at least not as successful as one’s ability warrants.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文



Respect for Elders Does Not Mean Never Questioning Them

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

A lot of people have the misconception that by respect for one’s elders, Confucius teaches blind obedience to elders and unthinking acceptance of everything and anything elders say. I’ve even heard it from someone of Chinese ethnicity that Confucianism is fascist. Alas, alas, it is not so!

As we have discussed in this blog before and as we can see from Di Zi Gui, p.9, Confucius and the Chinese tradition has never advocated blind obedience to elders, authority, emperor, or parents. In fact, it is one’s duty to try to dissuade them if one believes they are falling into moral unrighteousness. Moreover, It is a grave offense to not do so, as one then becomes an accomplice in making one’s parents fall into moral unrighteousness.

Also, Confucius has never advocated unthinking acceptance of everything and anything elders, or parents, or authority, for that matter, say. If one does not understand one is supposed to ask questions. If one thinks an elder is wrong one should question what the elder is saying.

Take for example the essay “Explanation on Entering the Academy” by the well-known eighth century Confucian scholar Han Yu (韓愈). In it, the professor on entering the Supreme Academy one day lectures the students on focusing wholeheartedly on their studies and not worrying about whether they will be treated fairly after they graduate, whereupon a student rebuts the professor, pointing out how he, the professor himself, is unfairly treated. “Teacher, you mislead us (先生欺我哉),” says the student. Yes, true Confucianism, not the kind that is mistaken for the real thing, teaches questioning and challenging authority if one thinks they are mistaken.

What Confucius advocates is respect. And surely as part of respect one should have a high enough regard for one’s elders that they have enough self-confidence to be questioned or challenged by juniors who have sincere doubts, and enough intellectual ability and integrity to engage in honest and open exchanges of opinion.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design