Technicians work at a plant of the LiuGong Group, a Chinese machinery manufacturer, in Stalowa Wola, Poland, on October 26, 2017. Chinese companies are making an increasing amount of investment overseas under the Belt and Road Initiative
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
In his novel A Tale of Two Cities, famed British author Charles Dickens was speaking not of two cities per se, but two experiences, perspectives, and of a divergence of ideals that resulted in the convergence of disharmonious forces. And while his setting was centuries in the past, he might well have been invoking the global landscape of today, one of nations in dichotomy central to our collective fate as humanity.
China and the United States, a tale of two nations, a destiny shared by one world.
The remarkable story of China’s reemergence as a world power and purveyor of ideals and ideas through its extraordinary economic and social expansion cannot be understated. President Xi Jinping’s vision as outlined under Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is a masterful blueprint for a better and more enlightened society. It weaves the wisdom of the ages with the needs of the nation and its people in the current era. The effect of Xi’s ideas on China is perhaps only surpassed in impact by what they may usher forward for humanity as a whole.
We are all familiar with the story of modern China--unparalleled economic growth especially considering the unprecedented size and scope of the country; the emergence of the world’s largest middle class replete with hope and opportunity for greater prosperity and well-being; and increased presence, power and influence on the world stage at a time when a void in leadership has emerged.
An age of wisdom
Confucius once said that “by three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.” As is so often the case with the great philosopher, his words--and more importantly their meaning--echo through the ages and arrive at the present with equal if not greater significance and relevance.
We have borne witness to extraordinary goings on of late. Tales of emergence, of a nation and its leader who sees with clarity the shared destiny of his people with all people. One who has chosen reflection as the path to a wiser, more responsible global society.
Extraordinary in its account of the world today, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era shares a vision of hope decades in the making, one of a “community with a shared future for mankind.” He outlined the blueprint for greater health, wealth and happiness for his nation while advancing a new form of globalization, one without requisite compromise of national identity and cultural variety. He referenced an interdependent, interconnected world forged not in uniformity, but in solidarity as we come to grips with our viability and vulnerability as humanity. It was the kind of address we have been waiting for. It was the kind of address one may have found sourced from another in times past.
An age of foolishness
“Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” These, the words of one of America’s founding fathers Benjamin Franklin, are words to be heeded and have never been more needed. For the state of the United States is anything but stately these days, and the stakes for a nation disguised as democracy is cause for concern--for all concerned.
There is a reason no society is allowed to govern for eternity. The rise and fall of civilizations is as well documented as it is inevitable. Nations become complacent--and thus complicit--in the nature of its cooperativeness and innovativeness as it sits too long upon the throne of its own design. Nations are not anointed superpowers among their kind. This is a claim that is taken, not given. For it is in the nature of humanity to be cooperative; that is, working together, as one, and any pathway to unilateralism will meet its end. What once took 400 to 800 years to evolve and devolve may now be granted a far shorter time on the continuum, the life cycle of nations. The rise and fall of societies moves in concert with the speed of technology. And technology has never been faster.
Equally remarkable to the rise of China and its place in the geopolitical and socioeconomic landscape is the apparent hard line demarcation of right and wrong by the United States and its current leadership. Right or wrong, the United States and its present administration have gone all in on going it alone. And wrong or right, it is counter to the intelligence, both internal and external, that one would seek in a wise and trusted partner.
A tale to tell
There is a story unfolding. It is the tale not of two nations, but of one world, and we can ill afford discord at this time. For the chord, the thread that connects us all, requires a delicate weaving to ensure its integrity and longevity. Man was placed on this planet to learn, forced to cooperate, required to innovate, and given a choice on how to do so, with little choice on whether to or not. For the destiny of humanity is aligned with our alignment as individuals and as a collective in consciousness and activity. Any disharmony threatens humanity in its entirety; for human existence is not a right in this world but a privilege, and our tenancy is aligned with our capacity to get along with ourselves, with one another, with the planet that plays host to our guest appearance, and with disappearance more than a distant possibility.
China under the deft leadership of President Xi offers the world a new narrative. A new narrative that is as old as time itself in this world. For time is a human construct, and for as long as humans are around the narrative will be the same. Communicate, cooperate, and innovate to elevate. Any other narrative is a false one, any other direction one of fools where wiser reflection is required.
The best of times. The worst of times.
Age of wisdom. Age of foolishness.
It is our choice as it has always been our choice.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2017 and the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top political advisory body, in March have set the tone for China going forward, and in doing so have done the same for a world that awaits another way, a better way, path and purpose.
Do we take the noble path, the easy path, or the bitter path? With the answer yet to be determined, one certainty remains: There is but one road, with one belt wide enough to include all involved. It is a road traveled by humanity in its entirety, a community with but one shared future and destiny.
On this road, China is now firmly at the wheel.
The author is founder and CEO of U.S.-based UNITE Education
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
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