The cycle of arrogance

Watched Ip Man, a true story about the Wing Chun master that taught Bruce Lee, and I loved it. The actor had a calm about him, a serenity that was a power in its own right. If anything, I would say that it was what really drove his martial arts prowess, because everyone that he fought was driven by pride or anger. He just did what he had to because it was needed to be done. The music and fight choreography was great too.

Over half the movie took place during the Japanese occupation of China. Now, here is where the title of this article comes in; there’s a certain irony regarding China after the Japanese occupation, but honestly, it is the same irony that humans have been dealing with for eons: the Chinese still haven’t forgiven the Japanese for the occupation, while they have committed their own atrocities in the past fifty years (granted, mostly against their own people, but I ask if it really matters which group a person belongs to when it comes to dying… Really, we’re all the same when it comes to that final moment.) I’ve decided that it comes down to arrogance and pride. Any man that will shoot someone because they lost yet still picked up their bag of rice is a man that thinks they are better than everyone else, to the point that they aren’t even worth the only thing they really own, is still a man that will die eventually. No amount of pride, no amount of superiority will change that. And a man that will cry about an atrocity fifty years back, yet demand that everyone kneel to them, is no better. Not any worse, but no better. Definitely more ignorant of what that atrocity truly meant. But not any worse.

So as I watched, I found myself wondering why we never learn from those that have the most to teach us? Why didn’t the Chinese learn the true meaning of Ip Man, that serenity in the face of adversity, that oppression will be stood up to, no matter the cost? Instead, they take over Tibet, and constantly threaten Taiwan because “it’s part of the Chinese homeland.” I have a short answer: they want to leave a legacy for their children, even if it’s at the cost of millions of people. The Chinese crave stability at any cost. But they forget about Ip Man, they forget that legacies are in the long run ephemeral. Because in the end, even ideas can die, and stability will break down. It is the nature of things. So why contribute to the pain and suffering for others in the name of pride and arrogance?

I have an answer to that too: because people always think they are the exception. Too bad they find out at the last moment, way too late to undo the harm they did to other people, that they are dead wrong. But this is the nature of things too.

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