When I was little, I really liked Lu Xun’s writing, but later, at some stage, I read a few pieces about him as a person, and really disliked him, so after that, I no longer liked what he wrote. Then later still, I grew up again, and found myself quite ridiculous: for me, he was just a writer, and expressed his way of seeing the world with his writing, so what I needed to agree and disagree with was only what he wrote, why should it also be connected to him as a person? Beside, it’s from other people writing about him that I could understand what kind of a man he was.
In my childhood education, I developed a habit: connect everything to a person’s good or bad morals, or from the start, try to guess what their motivation is. Later, a friend slightly older than myself told me the following thing: during the Cultural Revolution, they couldn’t find any incriminating evidence against a certain person, so they started interrogating: Why did you go out at that particular time? Why did you go shopping at that particular time? You must have had some ulterior motive. The person interrogated really had no explanation for that, but the interrogator didn’t actually want any explanation at all, because they thought they already had all the evidence. I laughed when I heard this, but thinking about it retrospectively, I have to say this is a mistake I might have committed myself, intentionally or not.
I often come across this question: because of issues with your ethical position, because of issues with your identty, because of your relationships or character 因为你的为人关系, you’re not eligible to express your views, or what you’re saying is necessarily wrong. In such circumstances, discussion is impossible, because your counterpart has already taken the moral high ground, they have denied you access, they have refused to accept you.
How can we learn to judge things on their own merit, how can we learn to give up our tendency to condemn, and stop always taking a moral high-ground to criticise other people’s habits: I’m still working on it – I’m not sure about you.