但是容忍也并不容易。1935年，我乘西伯利亚铁路的火车经苏联赴德国，车过中苏边界上的满洲里，停车四小时，由苏联海关检查行李。这是无可厚非的，入国必须检查，这是世界公例。但是，当时的苏联大概认为，我们这一帮人，从一个资本主义国家到另一个资本主义国家，恐怕没有好人，必须严查，以防万一。检查其他行李，我决无意见。但是，在哈尔滨买的一把最粗糙的铁皮壶，却成了被检查的首要对象。这里敲敲，那里敲敲，薄薄的一层铁皮决藏不下一颗炸弹的，然而他们却敲打不止。我真有点无法容忍，想要发火。我身旁有一位年老的老外，是与我们同车的，看到我的神态，在我耳旁悄悄地说了句：Patience is a great virtue(容忍是很大的美德)。我对他微笑，表示致谢。我立即心平气和，天下太平。
In home and social life one probably needs to be a little bit patient and then.
During the Tang Dynasty, a high official surnamed Zhang was known far and wide for his harmonious home life. When the emperor gave him praise and asked him how he had been running the family to achieve harmony, he wrote down without a break one hundred characters meaning “patience”. Evidently, the message he tried to bring home to the emperor was that family members must be accommodating to each other for the sake of harmony. That’s famous story. Consequently, people surnamed Zhang in the old days all felt greatly honored that one of their ancestors had been known for exercising patience.
However, it is easier said than done to be tolerant towards others. In 1935, I traveled to Germany via the Soviet Union over the Siberian railway. At the Sino-Soviet border in Manzhouli, the train stopped for a 4-hour-inspection by the Soviet customs. That was all right because entry inspection was an international practice. But the then Soviet Union subjected me to a closer-than-usual customs inspection probably on the assumption that I, like all those traveling from one capitalist country to another, must be a dubious character. I had no objection to the check-up of my belongings except when a crudely-made tinplate kettle that I had bought at Harbin became something very fishy to them. The kettle was certainly too flimsy for holding a hidden bomb, but they barked up the wrong tree and kept clanking it repeatedly here and there. Driven beyond the limit of my patience, I was about to flare up when an elderly foreigner, who was my co-passenger, whispered to me, “Patience is a great virtue.” That calmed me down, and I turned to him with a smile by way of expressing my thanks.
Obviously, patience is really a good thing or rather a great virtue. But I think there should be a demarcation line to be observed. Fighting a duel was a common practice in old Germany. One who suffered an insult to himself or especially his girlfriend would challenge the offender to a fight in which they used pistols or swords. The great Russian poet A. S. Pushkin was one of those shot dead in a duel. At the time when I arrived in Germany together with some other Chinese students, the practice of dueling was still lingering on there though less prevalent. We pledged that in case of ourselves being insulted we should weigh the pros and cons and give precedence to patience in line with the Oriental doctrine of magnanimity, but that in case of a humiliating insult directed against our dear country, we should wage a life-and-death struggle against the offender without showing any patience. That is what I mean by drawing a demarcation line. Fortunately, nothing of the kind happened; otherwise, I might not have survived to write this article today.
It is disheartening nowadays to see so little patience shown by our compatriots. On a crowded bus, for instance, when you happen to bump into a co-passenger or step on his feet, an immediate word of apology from you will serve to prevent a dispute. But many even grudge saying, “Sorry!” thereupon a quarrel or a fist-fight will follow until both parties are beaten black and blue. Oh, what has brought our great nation to such a pass? May PATIENCE come back to stay!