Image courtesy of Shawn Talbot

Everything We Do Is Not For Today

Niklas Göke
5 min readMar 25, 2019

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When the town’s crime boss wants a precious piece of land, he sends some of his goons to terrorize the school that’s built on it. First, they threaten the principal, then they torch a classroom.

Luckily, the local Kung Fu master saves the day. When he tries to acquire more help in form of the police, however, the chief says his hands are tied. His boss took the case. Corruption. After listening patiently, the master starts talking:

“The world’s not fair. But moral standards should apply to all. Those who rule aren’t superior and those who are ruled aren’t inferior. This world doesn’t belong to the rich. Or even the powerful. It belongs to those with pure hearts.

Have you thought about the children? Everything we do, they’re watching. And everything we don’t do. We need to be good role models.”

And then, master Ip Man says something important. Something we forget. Something that, little by little, seems to fade from the human story:

“Everything we do is not for today — but for tomorrow.”

How Proverbs Come To Be

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell captures the idea from this movie scene in an analogy: Freedom tomorrow comes from discipline today.

He explains the stereotype that Asians are good at school, particularly math, partly with the fact that they have been rice farmers for centuries.

Unlike Western farmland, rice paddies are built. Constructed. Not just in the landscape, but each unit too. They’re painstakingly assembled, complex systems of dikes, channels, and various layers of clay, mud, and fertilizer. Transplanting seeds, weeding, grooming, harvesting, it’s all done by hand.

What’s more, with a hotel-room sized paddy carrying a family of six and neither mechanical tools nor more land available, skills, choices, and dedication have always been the name of the rice farming game.

Unsurprisingly, Gladwell concludes:

“Throughout history, the people who grow rice have always worked harder than almost any other kind of farmer.”

Now, before you object with the lifestyle of European peasants back in the day…

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Niklas Göke

I write for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. Read my daily blog here: https://nik.art/