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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

A Letter To Chou Shih-chao

November 25, 1958

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Zedong Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

Dear Tun-yuan

I received your letter of 17 October and was happy to read it.

When undertaking a new duty, one must not choose the light and shun the heavy, but must choose the heavy and scorn the light. The ancients said: The virtuous and the able: it is impossible to combine the two into one. I feel that the two can be combined into one in you. Years and months, days and hours, you feel that your ability is not up to par. Actually, the reasons are first, you do not know yourself, and secondly, you do not understand objective matters. Those returned overseas students and big professors, with their confused personal relationships and complicated psychology, hold you in contempt, not in so many words, but by innuendoes. All these are common occurrences in society which almost everyone has to experience. Beyond this there is one’s own lack of political-economic experience and the fear when confronted with decisions. These are good; they are all facts and understandable. I feel that [your] intelligence and honesty are adequate to resolve all difficulties. It seems that I have discussed this point with you before. Intelligence means asking many questions and thinking a lot; honesty entails seeking the truth through facts. Practicing them constantly and regularly will make one more successful. Your courage seems to have greatly increased. After not having seen a person for three days, one must look at him with new eyes. My rambling is merely to add some oil and put in a dash of vinegar.

“Covering 80,000 li a day when sitting on the ground.” Chiang Chu-ju was wrong in his statement. There is a numerical basis. The diameter of the earth is approximately 12,500 kilometers. Multiplied by 3.1416, it becomes 40,000 kilometers, or 80,000 li. This is the mileage of the earth’s revolution (one day’s time). One must pay to ride a train, ship, or bus. It is called traveling. But no fare is required (no purchase of a ticket required) when sitting on the earth and covering 80,000 li. Is this traveling?! One is constrained by customs and habits, and one’s superstition is not eliminated. It is nothing but daily life, yet many people find it odd. Patrolling the skies, our solar system (including, the earth) threads back and forth in the Silver River [Milky Way] every day and every hour. What is the Silver River? It is without limit; “1,000” merely indicates infinity. Mankind merely “patrols” in a river, but what he sees is infinite. The Herd-boy, the men of Chin, schistosomiasis, dropsy, commonly known as bloat, the dynasties of Chou, Ch’in and Han  —  all are recorded in books many times. The Herd-boy Star is naturally concerned about his fellow villagers. One must ask the god of Plagues how things are. The Ursa Major, commonly known as the Herd-boy (do I remember it wrong?) belongs to the Silver River system. Please convey my explanations to Chu-ju. Any dissent can be argued. As I may not be in Peking in November we probably will not see each other.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung