There was an interesting op-ed in today’s Boston Globe about Niu which is the Chinese for Ox. The writers invoke the spririt of niu as the spirit of President Obama.
Niu has been an important labor force on Chinese farms for thousands of years. Therefore, in Chinese culture, niu is often used to symbolize a hardworking and trustworthy spirit. There is a famous saying in Chinese – “Although niu only eats grass, it produces milk” – which praises niu’s willingness to contribute. In addition, a poem by the 20th-century Chinese writer Lu Xun brings home niu’s attitude of serving without complaining: “To a thousand pointing fingers I defy with fierce brows, and to younglings I’d be fain to bow and serve as a niu.” Niu’s qualities – no-complaints, trustworthiness, unselfishness, and willingness to give and serve the people – are exactly the spirit that we should pursue in a time of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear amid the crisis.
That spirit must inhabit us all. As President Obama said in his inaugural address, there is a demand to return to the truth – the values upon which America’s success depends – including honesty, hard work, courage, and fair play.
The one thing I don’t really understand is the writers seem to be using “ox” and “bull” to refer to the same animal. In English “bull” refers to a male and would never give milk no matter how much grass he ate. But that quibble aside, they have a point. They conclude
In Chinese, crisis (wei ji) means crisis (wei) and opportunities (ji). The crisis may open up an opportunity for the world’s largest developed country and largest developing country to address global challenges instead of triggering a crisis in bilateral relations. Obama has the choice to turn a crisis into an opportunity – if he leads in the spirit of niu and works with world leaders to turn the year of the ox into the year of the bull.
It is snowing like crazy and I have to get to work. City Hall is open for some crazy reason. I got up at 5 to check and started scanning the news. Not sure exactly why we aren’t supposed to put out the trash, but we are supposed, despite everyone saying to stay home if you can, to get to work.
The blog RedState.com has decided to join Rush Limbaugh is calling for President Obama to fail. I’m not exactly sure why one would want the President to fail. I think is is related to the Republican hysteria I wrote about several days ago. If the Republicans are going to come back from the wilderness (and, yes, I realize that just under 50% of the voters did choose John McCain) they need to offer a more coherent message and have some new ideas – or at least package the old ones better – and get off the tax cut kick. If the tax cuts they like so much really created jobs, would we have the unemployment we have today? It really didn’t work too well. And after the Presidents speech to Congress last week, I believe his approval rating went to 67%.
The White House response?
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel charged Sunday that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is “the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party.”
Emanuel, speaking in deliberately soothing tones, told anchor Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Limbaugh has been up front about “praying for failure” by President Obama.
“I think that’s the wrong philosophy for America,” Emanuel said. “What Americans want us to do, and what President Obama has been very clear about, is work together setting our goals …
“Our goal, Bob, is to continue to reach out and it’s our desire that the Republicans would work with us and try to be constructive, rather than adopt the philosophy of somebody like Rush Limbaugh.”
So with the economy still tanking and unemployment rising, I will trudge off in the snow thinking about why anyone wouldn’t want to try something new to try to turn the ship around. Maybe because the ideas are designed to actually help ordinary people?