Taking the Bitter With the Sweet

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If there were no night, we would not appreciate the day, nor could we see the stars and the vastness of the heavens. We must partake of the bitter with the sweet. 

     — James E. Faust, American religious leader

Taking an attitude that anticipates dark periods of failure, while remaining hopeful of the bright seasons of success, gives us the stamina to keep going. 

Political opposites Mainland China & Taiwan surprisingly revere one founding figure, Sun Yat-sen, who exemplifies the tenacious spirit of pressing through the bitter & sweet. Born in Southern China, educated in Hawaii & Hong Kong as a medical doctor, he valued healing the sick imperial Chinese society over individuals. Thus he became a revolutionary. His goal was to overthrow the imperial government (the Qing Dynasty) and build a government based on a mix of modern and traditional political elements. For example, he advocated democracy, but preferred to keep the traditional examination system that recruited government officials on a system of merit.

From 1895 until the final overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Sun suffered many failed attempts at change. In exile, he maintained his vision, raising resources that eventually led to success. Like all great historical figures, Sun was not perfect, nor completely successful. He cooperated with and enlisted some very unsavory elements to accomplish his goal. His ideas of the “Three Principles” — nationalism (minzu, 民族), democracy (minquan, 民權), welfare (minsheng, 民生) — were not fully developed and easily exploited. Nonetheless, he persevered through setback after setback, and inspired momentous change in China.

In one of his dark periods, Sun was kidnapped in 1896 and held in the Chinese Legation in London. Only public media & British government pressure prevented him from being taken back to China for a likely execution.

His life fits Faust’s quote. Just like the darkness allows us to see & appreciate the vastness of the heavens, our failures give more meaning to the bright dawns of our days.

This documentary shows some original footage of Dr. Sun and gives more of his background.

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