I was surprised the vicar started his sermon last Sunday with the news of England’s defeat, with additional updates from Facebook. The fervour of the World Cup is all consuming, and it is almost impossible to escape from the excitement and passion around us. Even God had to come second.
The only footballer I know of is David Beckham. In March 2013, David Beckham lifted up his shirt to show off his Chinese tattoo (and torso) at Peking University.
Life and death are predestined
Beckham’s Chinese tattoo in the beautiful cursive script is: 生死有命，富贵在天 (pronunciation in Mandarin Chinese: shēngsǐ yǒu mìng, fùguì zài tiān). It can be loosely translated as: “Life and death are predestined, wealth and honour are decreed by heaven.”
You can watch this short video clip. David Beckham started pulling up his shirt at time 1:26 to reveal his Chinese tattoo. (Warning: deafening screams from girls.)
Beckham’s Chinese tattoo (with a variation of the first two characters 死生 – death and life) is from Verse 5, Chapter 12 of Analects of Confucius. This famous saying actually didn’t come from Confucius himself, but from one of his students, Zi Xia. Beckham’s tattoo only captured the first half of the message, which appeared to be abstract and philosophical. Some people even consider it slightly pessimistic.
Zi Xia tried to comfort a worried man and told him that all men are brothers if he commits no offense and if he is truthful towards others.
Chinese Wiki provided this translation:
English: Sima Niu said in a worrisome tone: “All men have brothers, except me.”
Zi Xia said: “I have heard that life and death are predestined, how much riches, how high a position one can get is determined by heaven. The gentleman is respectful and does no wrong, treat people with respect and courteous towards others. All those within the four seas (meaning everywhere) can be considered his brothers. Why should the gentleman be concerned about not having brothers?”
Original: 司马牛忧曰：“人皆有兄弟，我独亡！” 子夏曰：“商闻之矣，死生有命，富贵在天。君子敬而无失，与人恭而有礼。四海之内皆兄弟也，君子何患乎无兄弟也？”