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Day of reckoning

[ 2009-03-06 11:44]     字号 [] [] []  
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Day of reckoningReader question: In the following passage from Barack Obama’s speech to Congress on February 24, what does “day of reckoning” mean? “Regulations -- regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day. “Well, that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here. “Now is the time to act boldly and wisely, to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”

Day of reckoning

My comments: “Day of reckoning” was originally a religious term coming straight from the Christian Bible (Book of Isaiah): What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

In the Bible it points to the final “day at the end of time following Armageddon when God will decree the fates of all individual humans according to the good and evil of their earthly lives (Thefreedictionary.com). That is to say, the final day when everyone’s actions will be accounted for, good or bad, good deeds rewarded and bad deeds punished.

I saw some Chinese media translate “day of reckoning” into 审判日 – 现在,审判日到了。是该规划未来的时候了 – which undoubtedly alludes to the Bible. In non-religious circles, though, “审判日” might sound a bit big and heavy, because by saying “that day of reckoning has arrived”, all Obama was saying is that it is time to do something.

In plain English, we don’t have all day, let’s do it now.

Or in Latin, carpe diem – seize the day.

Or in the words of Mao, 一万年太久,只争朝夕 – Ten thousand years is too long, seize today (as well as tonight).

Or in Gordon Brown’s words, “seize the moment”, as the British Prime Minister said in his speech to the US Congress on March 5, 2009: “You now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory. A leadership that wants to co-operate more closely together in order to co-operate more closely with you. There is no old Europe, no new Europe there is your friend Europe. So seize the moment.”

Well, in your case, seize the weekend.

Have a good time.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.