My dear Kacvey,
What a month of July that has just flown away! So far, it was the most brutal and saddest month of the Year of Hanuman with Hostile Takeover, a political assassination, the sell-out and fall-out in Vientiane on “South China Sea,” the unforgettable and most memorable world longest funerals cortege of Mr. Kem Ley, the movements of troops and military trucks and tanks crisscrossing the country for whatever imaginary and fantasy reasons or scary tactics… Is this just a prelude to more of the same or worst?
In your political philosophy class, your students have been all along right when they asked you what would be the rationale or rationales for the current gloomy and sullen political atmosphere throughout the land of the Khmer. As there is more than one way to skin a cat than choking it with cream, here is “one way” to look for/at it; it is through Mengzi’s wisdom.
Mengzi (孟子), who is known to the Western world as Mencius, wrote the following passage (16 to 22) extracted from “King Hui of Liang, Part I” (梁惠王上):
16. ‘Your dogs and swine eat the food of men, and you do not make restrictive arrangements. There are people dying from famine on the roads, and you do not issue the stores of your granaries for them. When people die, you say, “It is not owing to me; it is owing to the year.” In what does this differ from then saying – “It was not I; it was the weapon?” Let your Majesty cease to lay the blame on the year, and instantly from all the nation the people will come to you.’
16. 狗彘食人食而不知检， 涂有饿莩而不知发；人死， 则曰：“非我也。岁也。” 是何异於刺人而杀之，曰：“非我也，兵也。” 王无罪岁，斯天下之民至焉。
17. King Hui of Liang said, ‘I wish quietly to receive your instructions.’
17. 梁惠王曰： 【寡人愿安乘教。】
18. Mencius replied, ‘Is there any difference between killing a man with a stick and with a sword?’
18. 孟子对曰： 【杀人以挺与刃，有以异乎？】
19. The king said, ‘There is no difference!’
20. ‘Is there any difference between doing it with a sword and with the style of government?’
21. ‘There is no difference,’ was the reply.
22. Mencius then said, ‘In your kitchen there is fat meat; in your stables there are fat horses. But your people have the look of hunger, and on the wilds there are those who have died of famine. This is leading on beasts to devour men. Beasts devour one another, and men hate them for doing so. When a prince, being the parent of his people, administers his government so as to be chargeable with leading on beasts to devour men, where is his parental relation to the people?’
22. 曰： 【庖有肥肉，厩有肥马，民有饥色，野有饿莩，此率獸而食人也。獸相食，且人恶之。为民父母，行政不免於率獸而食人。恶在其为民父母也。】
By the way, your students with “Meng” or “Méng” as name or surname would be delighted to be “nominally” associated with such a great thinker!