From Ho Chi Minh's Prison Diary I have extracted three items to make a point.
The first is the poem
Air-raid Warning November 12
Enemy planes come roaring in the sky.
People flee helter-skelter, leaving the place empty.
Out of prison we are ordered for safety:
How gladly we all hasten to comply!
The second hints of changing fortunes, shows you can't trust Mars.
Dog-meat at Baoxiang
At Gode the guards liked their fish fresh.
Now at Baoxiang they relish dog flesh.
Ah, even that gang of turnkeys
At times show a taste for delicacies!
The third shows that ordinary people are basically good natured.
Like duckweed meeting water, glad we were to see each other.
How kind and cordial Mr Guo was to me!
Nothing much: "A little gift of coal in wintry weather."
Yet, that such people exist is truly a blessing.
We might think that what the world needs today is more kind people like Mr Guo and less of the other sort. There are, contrary to public perception, people like Mr Guo in abundance. Millions of them. More than enough. They can be found in every country and every city in the world. The problem is that their voices are all too often unheard because of the clamour of the war industry.
This situation can only get worse because of the sanitized, approved versions of events that are continually bombarding us from our breaking news screens you might think. But you'd be wrong.
The Mr Guo's of this world are not so dumb as the censors, the priests, the politicians, the industrialists, the bankers, the turnkeys et alia would have you believe. Mr Guo will out. Mr Guo will have his way. This has been proven time and again. How the mighty are fallen, is not an idle observation.
A universal law is at work here. It is beyond the minds of generals and warmongers to comprehend this. And I repeat, it will have its way. The king cannot wear enough for both of us.
Ho Chi Minh put it very well in his poem The Weather is Clearing Up:
The Weather is Clearing Up August 29, 1942 - September 10, 1943
Everything evolves, such is the law of nature.
After days of rain, here's fine weather coming!
In an instant the earth has cast off its damp clothing;
Over ten thousand li the land spreads its mantle of brocade,
Under warm sun and balmy wind flowers smile with rapture;
In the tall trees and shining boughs birds release their trills.
Joy fills man's heart as well as the universe.
After bitter comes the sweet: so runs the course of nature.
All wars must end around a negotiating table. There are three steps. Peace, War, Negotiations. It's quite simple. Peace, War, Negotiations. The trick that Mr Guo is teaching us is to miss out the middle step; to go from step one to step three directly. It's easy. It's quite simple. All it takes is a little courage.
Mr Guo gave Ho Chi Minh a simple gift, a piece of coal. What are the consequences? The gift, the kindness of the gift, inspires Ho Chi Minh. It enables him to continue his long sufferance. The gift becomes a milestone on a long road. Why is this important? It is important because those who would have it otherwise want to control the giving and the receiving. Think about that. Mr Guo risks his life to give a prisoner, a stranger in dire circumstances, a man in shackles and rags who has nothing, a simple gift, a piece of coal.
Neither high up nor far away,
Not on an emperor's nor a king's throne,
You're only a little slab of stone
Standing on the edge of the highway.
People ask you for guidance;
You stop them from going astray,
And tell them the distance
Over which they must journey.
The service you render is no small one;
People will remember what you've done.