When you break a number of eggs it may be a good time to make an omelet. Having said that I might go on to enhance the appeal of such a proposition by adding, Confusius Says: Break bunch of eggs good time to make omelet. Or, I could claim it to be an old French peasant adage that means: A blunder in the hen house can lead to a good breakfast.
For far too many years now I have been making the claim that the word Crisis in Chinese means “Dangerous Opportunity.” It has nice ring to it. I usually went on to say the Chinese word contains two characters that stand for “Dangerous” and “Opportunity.”
It is a little comforting to know that I am one of a very large number of people who have been peddling this bit of folklore as truth, while in fact it is fiction. It is a myth. It doesn’t have any connection in Chinese lexicography. Because Chinese doesn’t really have a word like lexicography, which is derived from the Greek terms lego, to speak and grapho, to write, none of which really helps understand the term better than a simple definition of usage.
It is a pedantic way to try to make something sound better than it is. To polish the apple, so to speak. Until one finds out that he is utterly myth-taken in what he is saying.
I have said, with tongue in cheek, that Winnebago is an old Indian word that means “camper-trailer.” Or, that vegetarian is an old Indian word that means “lousy hunter.’ Few are mislead by this. Most laugh. Some might even think it to be true.
But I have been quoting the Chinese definition of ‘crisis’ fully believing the truth and veracity of what I have been saying, and that is wrong. It simply isn’t true. Here is a link to a scholarly article that shows why it is not true. http://www.pinyin.info/chinese/crisis.html
It has been a tough week. I have also learned that many of my favorite Native American Indian quotes are not accurate either. The truth is there is a great deal of misinformation floating around. Fortunately, there is also a great deal of good information floating around to help sort out what is true and what is not true.
I am not going to stop suggesting that crisis means dangerous opportunity. Or, better yet, it makes good sense to recognize that crisis may contain an element of danger at the same time that it contains an element of opportunity, and these to possibilities are not mutually exclusive. But I am going to stop trying to pretend that the Chinese have somehow known this thousands of years.
You might say that getting mislead by this term has been something of a crisis, which it is. It has a danger to it, because I have been misrepresenting reality – not a good thing to do. But it is also an opportunity, because I now see that it is unnecessary to attribute an idea that has merit to it to some ancient origin to give it value. It is a proposition that has the strength to stand on its own merits.
Mea Culpa.Tagged with: communication • Speaking clearly • stress