[FOUNTAIN]We pigs don’t get the credit we deserveA letter from Zhu Bajie the Pig
I apologize if it sounds like I’m squealing on the first day of the new year, but I must have my say. I’ve kept it inside for too long. As good luck would have it, this is the one and only day in 12 years that people take notice of my kindred and I will speak on behalf of all my brothers and sisters.
Han Fei, the greatest of the Chinese legalist philosophers, had the audacity to write in one of his many essays that “a monkey caged is no better than a pig.” He supposedly meant that no matter what kind of talent you have, it can only do you good when used in the appropriate situation. That’s fine with me. Sun Wokong, Monkey God and fellow disciple to our master Sanzang, always got the better of me, I admit. But with so many different animals in the world, why do we have to be the example of imbecility? Most humans don’t realize it, but we pigs are not stupid at all. We actually happen to have the highest IQ among livestock. Even -- may I say -- smarter than your pet dogs that you humans so adore.
Yet it seems our fate to always be portrayed in a totally inaccurate and unjust way. “I’d rather be a Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied”? Thank you very much, Mr. John Stuart Mill. Why not just come out with it and say you want to be a Socrates satisfied? While I’m on the subject, we pigs are not as greedy as humans tend to think we are. We merely eat a lot because we are told to take care of all the leftovers from the tables of a rather greedy species called . . . ah yes, humans.
After we helped Master Sanzang accomplish his mission to retrieve Buddhist sutras from India, Buddha himself awarded me the job of “Cleanser of the Altars.” That is, I must perform the very important task of finishing all the leftovers from the altars given to Buddha. This might be a little indelicate, but I have never once suffered from indigestion. In fact, no animal species suffer from indigestion with the exception of . . . you got it.
Then again, some of you humans in Asian cultures think it’s good luck to see us in your dreams. Pigs by nature don’t complain. Oh, before I forget, there’s something I must tell you. They say that those born in the Year of the Pig have the fate of never going hungry. Thanks for the compliment. But fate is what you make of it. I know some fortune-tellers have been spreading the word that this year is a Golden Pig Year, which supposedly comes every 600 years, but I’ll let you in on a secret. There is not a single line about this Golden Pig Year in the Book of Changes, which we all know is the ‘bible’ of ancient fortune-telling. Oink! Sincerely, Zhu Bajie
The writer is Tokyo correspondent
of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yeh Young-june