The Wisdom of Emperor Shin Huang Ti

The Wisdom of Emperor Shin Huang Ti

The world is, and is becoming more interesting. And the panicking caused by COVID-19 is on the increase. Everyone has to protect themselves. BUT, do it in WISDOM!

To some, building a fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Instead of being safer, you cut yourself off from the kind of knowledge on which your life depends.

Shin Huang Ti, started off as the King of Ch’in, a fearless warrior of unbridled ambition. He is the first emperor of China (221-210 BC), and the mightiest man of his days. His empire was vaster and more powerful than that of Alexander the Great. He’d be merciful sometimes, but more often he “swallowed men up without a scruple.” But in the last year of his life, few, if anyone, saw him …

As part of his process of unification, however, he outlawed the writings and teachings of Confucius, the philosopher whose ideas on the moral life had already become virtually a religion in Chinese culture.

This made many enemies for the emperor, and he grew constantly afraid, lived in constant terror and apprehension of destruction, even paranoid. Which led the emperor to withdraw deeper and deeper into the palace to protect himself. As a result of this, he slowly lost control of the realm.

Eunuchs and ministers enacted political policies without his approval or even his knowledge; they also plotted against him. By the end, he was emperor in name only, and was so isolated that barely anyone knew he had died.

He had probably been poisoned by the same scheming ministers who encouraged his isolation.

That is what isolation brings: you lose your ear for what is happening around you, as well as a sense of proportion.

Uchechukwu J. David (2020), commented: “Solitude is dangerous to reason, when not favourable to virtue …” – double-read that statement in order to grasp, because that is the whole essence of this article.

Since humans are social creatures by nature, it follows that the social art that makes them pleasant to be around can only be practiced by constant meaningful exposure, social interaction and circulation.

The danger for most people comes when they feel threatened. In such times they tend to retreat and close ranks, to find security in a kind of fortress. In doing so, they engender an awkwardness in their gestures, leading to further isolation and; lose perspective on events around them.

Nevertheless, in moments of uncertainty and danger, you need to fight this desire to turn inward. Instead, make yourself more accessible to information – read books, online lectures; seek out old social formation and make new ones – from a vantage position and; force yourself into more and more different circles of relevance.

Finally, never enclose yourself so far from the streets that you cannot hear what is happening around you, including the plot against you – just like Ch’in Shin Huang Ti.

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