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In Tribute

I spent a large part of the afternoon considering the life of one Gnome (as introduced to me in this myth). The national broadsheet published a number of reports, and I compared it with the little prior knowledge I had from my explorations from the myth. Terms like master-builder and prime architect rang true enough, but there was an awkward portion, oddly the ending portion of the last printed report, which quoted the man himself on ‘being No. 2’ (the man’s own words) and being under a ‘shadow’ (the writer’s words). It felt awkward because the writer had a difficult point to bring up, and the point could only be addressed appropriately by the party concerned, but the writer knew that too.

The bulk of what was printed was about his service to the country (the words 贡献 best capture the flavor), which was genuinely remarkable, and which takes quite an effort to begin to appreciate. (The fact is that most of my recruits wouldn’t quite know who he was, or how their lives have been influenced by him.) I’ve made the effort before, and today, as a young man of twenty, I found myself looking out for what it was that those who wrote about him or were quoted speaking about him remembered and identified as key to the man. There were many things.

There were many things, but in the spirit of my inquiry, if I had to choose a few, they would all have to do with Character, as we term it. His integrity and ‘dedication to the betterment of the lot of his fellow man’ stand out, as do accounts of his working style and the ‘moral authority’ he wielded. Another sentence I remember mentioned how he brought ‘the gold standard’ to public service: ‘probity and total reliability’. As to what motivated such a gifted man to choose to contribute in the ways he did, intellectually, at least, it was because (I quote the words of his widow) ‘he enjoyed the challenge’.

There are many things to appreciate about the man, and many things to admire, but the small way I choose to remember is to realize that there are many things to work towards in a life, and generally the betterment of others’ lives is the worthiest thing, but with regards to personal satisfaction at least, there are many worse reasons to do things than the challenge of them.

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