United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes down famous lines of Confucianism during an interview with Xinhua reporters at the UN headquarters in New York on June 26, 2008. During the interview ahead of his visit to China early next month, Ban Ki-moon, a veteran South Korean diplomat, spoke of his appreciation for Confucius and how the scholar's wisdom has helped him in both his public and private lives. (Xinhua Photo)
The UN secretary-general first spoke of his esteem for the revered thinker in mid-2007, when he referred to the 2,000-year-old Analects in a Newsweek article entitled "Why the World Has Changed in the UN's Favor."
Ban said for years he had carried in his wallet "a well-worn scrap of paper inscribed with Chinese characters, each pertaining to one's age and phase in life."
The secretary-general then produced that scrap of paper, explaining what he thought was the meaning of the different age phases.
Smiling, Ban said that at 64 he belongs to the phase of "soft ear."
"That means you should be ready to hear all the opinions, all the ideas, but you should have your own judgment," he said. "This is what I have been really trying to practice."
Then he wrote down more Chinese characters meaning "personalities cultivated, families regulated, states well-governed, peace prevails in the world."
"You should first of all bring peace and stability in your own family, only then you can govern ... administer the country and the world," he said, adding that he was even trying to put the idea across to his UN staff.
"I am personally very much agonized (for) not being able to have brought harmony and peace within the UN, because I regard all my staff ... my family members," Ban said.
"...let us try to bring peace and harmony among us, no division among us," he said. "This is what I was telling my staff even this morning, by explaining this. This is what Confucius has taught me."
The UN chief described himself as a "middle-of-the-road man" who follows Confucius' doctrine of the mean. "I don't go to extremes - far right or far left - always in the center. This is my personal philosophy."
(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2008)