Dragon year holds message for West

EXCEPT for Puff the Magic Dragon, many Westerners think the only good dragon is a dead one. Adam and Eve’s honeymoon came to an abrupt halt by a serpent (serpent, dragon – same thing according to the Bible’s Book of Revelations, Ch.20, v.2).

George became a saint by slaying a dragon and our childhood myth-reliving game of Dungeons and Dragons preceded the Nintendo dragon monsters of cyberspace.

So why are our Chinese citizens so elated that, from 5 February, we are in the Lunar Year of the Dragon?

As Michael Kile explained on 1 February at a Chinese Chamber of Commerce function at the Perth Mint (which produces a magnificent gold and silver Lunar coin series each year – quickly snapped up by international investors), the dragon symbolises the dynamic creative energy of the universe – vitality, fertility and power.

It is easy to see why the Chinese dragon is the most powerful of the twelve Chinese lunar zodiac animals. It symbolises spirituality and divine power of transformation (Lung), earthly power (Mang), controls the sea and depths of wisdom (Li) and inhabits mountain peaks and represents leadership (Chiao).

Add colour to this and we have the yellow or celestial dragon – the colour of earth and origin – protecting us all and the green dragon – the colour of spring – rebirth and youthfulness and ruling over all forms of life-giving water, awakening us to new dreams while remaining grounded to yellow earth.

Of the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water, this is the year of strong metal.

So all up, from 5 February we have the year of the powerful (Yang) metal (Gen) yellow and green dragon (Chen).

We are entering a year of good stuff – a great way to start our Gregorian century.

How can our business endeavours and economy possibly go wrong?

Remember, we are talking Chinese philosophy here, not the Christian-based value system that in the past century has become economic rationalist materialism.

The powerful Dragon spirit thrives on rather different values.

Reflect on the words of Confucius, translated from The Great Learning (Ta hsueh) in a chapter from the Li Chi:

“Those who seek the Dragon spirit must cultivate their personal lives.

“Those who want to cultivate their personal lives must first train their minds.

“Those who want to train their minds must first extend their


“The extension of knowledge consists in the investigation of things.

“When things are investigated, knowledge is extended.

“When knowledge is extended, the will becomes sincere.

“When the will is sincere, the mind is rectified.

“When the mind is rectified, the personal life is cultivated.

“When the personal life is cultivated, the family will be regulated.

“When the family is regulated, the State will be in order.

“And when the State is in order, there will be peace throughout the world.

“From the Son of Heaven down, all must regard cultivation of the personal life as the root or foundation.

“There is never a case where the root is in disorder and yet the branches are in order.”

Listen up, leaders.

• Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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