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Where lies the path for the average Chinese citizen?

James Huang | 2023.12.29

Firstly, it is imperative for the youth of today to realise the futility of adhering to the life lessons preached by the previous generation. This generation, reaping the benefits of a different era, often insists that hard work and steady employment can lead to wealth and endless possibilities. However, the reality faced by the current generation is starkly different. The youth of today must comprehend the fact that in the context they find themselves in, the value of labour is diminishing. It’s evident in the struggle to find equivalent job opportunities as past generations, often settling for lower wages or demanding work conditions. The roles they undertake are often merely draining, leaving them devoid of any personal skill enhancement or professional competitive edge. Thus, even if an economic boom were to occur in the next five to ten years, the majority of these individuals, now in their forties or beyond, would not significantly differ from fresh graduates in terms of workplace competitiveness. Moreover, they would likely miss out on opportunities arising from new industries due to their lack of experience in those fields.

There are two pieces of advice that the current generation could consider and implement: One - Understand the reality and strive to endure. This essentially involves abandoning the illusion of a smooth upward trajectory in life and career, and warding off a sense of responsibility and honour towards one’s company. It is crucial to recognise the relationship with the capitalist as a mere transactional one. One must work diligently, but not excessively, focusing on maintaining physical and mental health. The second piece of advice for those unwilling to accept a mundane existence, is to take calculated risks. This involves a low-cost trial-and-error approach, which is necessary to seize the direction of the next era.

A few strategies can be employed to achieve this. Firstly, read extensively; delve into history, politics, economics, and finance. Cultivate systematic thinking and the ability to discern the truth amidst ambiguity. Clear understanding of the world and its exploitative mechanisms is crucial. Secondly, based on your judgement of future opportunities or your own talents, consider starting a side business. This should be something that can potentially yield compound returns as you invest more time and energy into it.

The best side businesses involve you controlling the means of production. For instance, if you are a skilled writer, consider writing articles and managing your own blog or social media accounts. These can be considered side businesses as they help you accumulate important resources such as followers. It is advisable to experiment with multiple side businesses but avoid those with high costs, as they can be risky and the success rate is generally low.

In conclusion, it is essential to ground oneself in reality, disregard the values propagated by media and literature, scrutinise one’s life and then ponder over the truths of life. All the information you receive is essentially a narrative, often concealing key aspects of reality and focusing on the extraordinary. It is crucial to understand that survival is not an easy task and one must respect the world and its inherent logic. The outcome of one’s survival efforts can vary greatly depending on the environment and sometimes, luck. It is important to realise the limitations of human efforts and that adherence to a particular principle does not guarantee success. After all, we can only do our best and leave the rest to destiny.

In the present moment, our primary objective should be to ensure we are progressing positively; that tomorrow will assuredly be a better day than today. If an individual finds themselves cast adrift in the open sea, the first thing they must do is ensure they can breathe. Regardless of the position they adopt, their paramount concern should be to stay afloat and maintain normal respiration. At such a time, viewing a swimming tutorial video, for instance, that of Sun Yang, would be utterly useless. It is a case of 'a distant water cannot quench a nearby fire'. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to comprehend one's own state and situation, including the environment they find themselves in. If one is not aware that they are in the sea, they might attempt to emulate someone running, leading to a swift, inevitable drowning.

Once the environment is understood, the next step is to understand the prerequisites for survival and to rank them in order of priority. I am particularly fond of the wilderness survival programme 'Man vs. Wild'. In each episode, adventurer Ed Stafford ventures alone into the wilderness, equipped with no modern survival tools and relies solely on his survival skills. Every episode begins with a mantra: 'Next, I need to address the most important things – a source of water, shelter, food, and fire.' This repetition is strategic, intended to become an ingrained habit so that even in a state of impaired consciousness, the survivalist can remember and act on it.

In the context of our lives within modern civilisation, what are the essentials of survival? I propose four: money, leisure time, skills, and a spirit of adventure. These seem more abstract when compared to wilderness survival, but they are indicative of the progress of civilisation. Money is the resource necessary to support life and development, and a steady source of income is a must. Leisure time is needed so that individuals have personal space and time to think and plan, to perceive and respond to changes, and to create a positive feedback loop. Skills are the practical abilities that can be traded or sold, and they should be continuously refined and expanded to improve one's financial situation. Adventure spirit is needed to break through the comfort zone, explore unknown fields, expand cognition, and update one's thinking system.

Why are these four elements essential for survival? Because they can help you keep moving forward, creating a positive feedback loop. You can carefully inspect whether you are lacking in any of these areas and then make targeted improvements. For example, if you are particularly short of money, you should first think of nothing else and earn enough to live comfortably for half a year. Similarly, if you lack solid skills, you should choose an area where you excel and start seriously practicing a skill. Equally, if you are working so much that you don't have time to think about the future direction of development, you should not take a job with a high salary, because you will eventually be overdrawn and lose the ability to respond to changes. Of course, if the salary is particularly high, it is important to accumulate wealth quickly in the short term.

It is also essential to have a clear understanding of the environment before you enter a new one, as this can prevent you from setting unrealistic goals. Ed Stafford often reflects on his decisions in his program. He reflects most on his blind expansion and overly high goals. For example, he often thinks about catching a big animal and forgetting to find some small food. He wants to build a big house and finds that the materials are not enough. Or he pays too much attention to one kind of resource and neglects others. For example, he is in a hurry to make a fire and forgets to look for food (make traps, etc.). The wrong goal will result in hunger, cold, and other more dangerous consequences. Modern survival is the same. It is not easy to survive, and it is not a game world where everything is ready. You must respect this world. The meaning of respect is to understand its objectivity, know that it does not specifically target anyone, and it has its own operating logic. If you casually cope with life, life will also cope with you, so you can only seriously face every problem that arises.

Ed Stafford's survival results vary with the environment every time. He is almost starving in some places, and he can make a candlelight dinner for himself in some places. It has something to do with the environment, and sometimes it has something to do with luck. So, in fact, you have to realize that human power is limited, and it is not that you can achieve any results by following a certain truth. Do your best and obey the destiny. I think this is also the necessary cognition for healthy survival.

Where lies the path for the average Chinese citizen?
MERCURY TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION, James Huang 29 December, 2023
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