Today is the start of the Chinese New Year, the year of Monkey (or fire monkey to be slightly more precise). When I first thought of this the old maxim “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” immediately came to my head, with the well-worn image of the three wise monkeys, Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru:
Although this is better known from Japanese iconography, popularized in the 17th century, it supposedly has its roots in the teachings of the venerable Chinese philosopher, Confucius, who originally wrote, “Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety” in the Analects of Confucius 1800 years before. This was later simplified to the nine words we know today.
In these recent days of political bombast, bully rhetoric, vitriolic speeches and general mud-slinging by people who vie to be our would-be rulers it would be gratifying to see them heed this maxim, if only for a short while. Imagine how refreshing it would be for them to opine only positively; to layout their well-thought out plans for the country; to ignore sound bites and twitter hits, and actually attempt to act like the statesmen and stateswomen they purport to be.
But, that being said, why should we be so hard on our politicians? We should all consider this behavior and attempt to act this way in our own lives. I know that I am easily drawn into the trap of “water cooler moaning” during the day, and I too should know better.
One thing that I noticed a few years ago, when I took up photography seriously, was that my outlook on the world did actually change. it seems that somehow looking through a viewfinder, and searching for a well composed shot literally focused my mind on seeing things in a different way. I’m not saying that I do this all the time, but when I am in my “photographer mode” I certainly am a more positive person.
So, here’s a challenge for you: Try to be mindful of the simple phrase “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” throughout the day and try to deliver on it.
Oh, and a Happy (Chinese) New Year!