Many years ago, a book was pressed into our hand by an old friend. It purported to be the autobiography of a hardened supporter of the football team Manchester City. It seemed to us to be little more than a dreary round of fights, status anxiety and prison time served. But we always remember one anecdote. A friend of the author explained his arbitrary desire to stand in a part of the football ground reserved for the most violent supporters of City’s rivals, who are known as Manchester United. When his friends warned him of a hostile reception, he declared “I’m City through and through, City until I die….” He went to the aforementioned location was was duly subjected to a brutal and life threatening assault.
What was the point? we wondered. Does being City stand for a higher moral status, improved arts, or a plan for the better governance of the Republic? And United for that matter- has the club discovered a cure for cancer, or a new form of energy? Apart from the fact that one wears blue, and the other red, why risk all?
Today Mr Biden, President of the United States meets Russian leader Putin in Geneva. It would be easy for this site to take sides. Sufficient that the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution seem to sum up our thinking rather nicely, and that nothing of comparable value has emerged to date from the Russian empire. Unlike football, real values and real issues are at stake. Yet to denigrate Putin is to misunderstand him. Russians too have their insecurities and grievances, and unfortunately can point to many instances where the US and its western allies have acted less than nobly. The potential for a detonation is very great; the language used, and its meanings, must be very carefully spelled out.
Another great power, China, will not be represented. But its spiritual founding father, Confucius (Kong Fuzi) had this to say:
If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.
(we take this from the excellent quotes net, linked below)
The world is not always how we would like it to be; western values of freedom, justice and peace have not travelled well. But to provoke the leader of a nuclear armed power into nihilistic violence will help no one. One side at least must try not to think like the football fans above.
#football #putin #PresidentBiden #UnitedStates of America #china #confucius #genevasummit