靡不有初,鲜克有终 – Chinese philosophy and culture

mí bú yǒu chū, xiǎn kè yǒu zhōng 靡不有初,鲜克有终

All Things Have a Beginning, but Few Can Reach the End.

所有的事情都会有开始,但很少有人能够做到善终。“靡”,无,没有;“初”,开始;“鲜”,很少;“克”,能够。语出《诗经·大雅·荡》。原本斥责周厉王昏庸无道,政令多变而为害百姓。“靡不有初,鲜克有终”具有深刻的现实意义和哲学意义,做人、做事、为官、理政,有一个好的开端并不难,难的是始终如一地坚持到最后。它告诫我们,做事情不要轻易更改,不能开始时信誓旦旦但很快就忘记初衷,更不能轻言放弃,一定要做到有始有终、善始善终。

All undertakings have a beginning, but few people are able to see things through to the end. Mi (靡) means “nothing, none,” and chu (初) means “beginning.” Xian (鲜) means “few,” and ke (克) means “are able, can.” The saying comes from The Book of Songs, and was a criticism of the degenerate and immoral King Li of Zhou whose constantly changing decrees brought misery to his people. The story has both practical and philosophical implications. Starting off with a flourish is not difficult, whether in personal behavior, doing business, being an official or governing a country. It’s persevering to the end that is hardest. This is an admonition to us to not keep changing our minds, to avoid making bold early promises and then failing to live up to them. We must not give up in the middle, but should persevere so that things not only begin well but also end well.

引例 Citation:

◎天生烝民,其命匪谌。靡不有初,鲜克有终。(《诗经·大雅·荡》)

(上天生下众百姓,政令不能无诚信。凡事都会有开始,很少有人能善终。)

Heaven created all people. Decrees of government must be consistent. All things have a beginning, but few people can see them through to the end. (The Book of Songs)

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