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APRIL 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 4

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Contemporary Confucius  

Contemporary Confucius
Ancient philosophical insights teach of duct tape, car payments and Barbie



Long before Rush Limbaugh graced the radio with his conservative wisdoms, before Howard Stern subjected the masses to his perverted musings, even before (believe it or not) the wise and just U.S. legal system fought over the fate of a six-year-old Cuban, outside-the-box thinking had a name, a face and a large collection of fine chopsticks. The often misquoted and misrepresented Confucius taught generic truths and wisdoms up until the last of his remarkable 72 years -- at which time the fortune cookie was poised to usurp his teachings anyway.

Ancient -- when we say ancient we're talking old, much older than Dick Clark if you can believe it -- China's greatest philosopher, Confucius saw his mission around 500 B.C. as restoring order out of chaos and consequently relieving people from their suffering. He did this with no claim of divinity or the supernatural, although, reportedly, he did have grand designs to host the original Tonight Show, but was passed over when he commented that "Jen (humanity) is to love men." NBC producers regrettably misinterpreted his teachings, stating that their show wasn't ready for a gay host.

Confucius persevered, however, and, as Socrates would later do for Athenian society, he dedicated his life to developing wisdom that would raise the quality of life for the individual and society. Remarkable as it may seem, we have recently come upon some ancient (and quite prophetic given the references to modern life and 20th Century sensibilities) teachings through an anonymous e-mail that delve to the heart of Confucius' greatest lessons: humanity and decorum.

So read these simple, yet brilliant, kernels of knowledge; your life will be better for it. We can finally stop making all our major decisions with a Magic Eight Ball and a bucket of fortune cookies.

Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me, either. Just leave me alone.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire.

It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal the neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

Sex is like air; it's not important unless you aren't getting any.

We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse.

No one is listening until you make a mistake.

Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.

If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again; it was probably worth it.

If you haven't much education you must use your brain.

Never mess up an apology with an excuse.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield.

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.

Good judgment comes from bad experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

Timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

Duct tape is like the force, it has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together.

I didn't say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you.

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving

Anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of.

Diplomacy is the art of saying "good doggie" while looking for a bigger stick.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

Don't be irreplaceable; if you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

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SUBMITTED via e-mail by Chris Morin.
ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATION of Confucius copyright © Bettmann Archive.