By Zhou Guoping Trans. by Zhang Chunbai
Of all social organizations, family is the most natural one. It is the principal bond that links man with the earth and with the source of life. To have a good partner, build a good nest and raise the young while nurturing the old, can give us a sound feeling of reassurance about life. Those without a family are carefree, but this freedom can sometimes be too hard to bear, for it can easily trap us in a feeling of rootlessness and emptiness.
Man is a greedy animal caught by conflicting desires. For example, while he wants stability, he also craves freedom; while he desires a comfortable home, he also yearns for a romantic escape. He tends to think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, and so he often finds himself unsatisfied with what he has and yearning for what he has not. Thus he is caught in confusion and in the dilemma of whether to enter or escape the “besieged city”. Most people, however, are willing to sacrifice some freedom for the sake of stability. Those modern people who once abandoned their families for the sake of fashion are now returning to them in great numbers and cherishing marital harmony, which thus proves the point. The reason is simple: man is after all a social animal, and family, as a living cell of society, can allow man to achieve the fullest satisfaction of his social nature.
A home is not merely a place. Rather it is more like a living thing, formed when two lives are united because of love. In the course of their life together, their lives flow past with the years and months, but to where? I dare say that most of their lives flow into this home and are transformed into its life. The longer they live together, the more this home becomes a living thing in which life experiences and fates are interwoven, with many small but precious shared memories, and also, in most cases, the hard work and pleasure of raising children. Precisely for this reason, divorce can still cause an acute pain of being torn apart even after their love has vanished. What feels the pain is none other than this living thing born of the union of the two lives. If we always remember that our home is a living thing capable of feeling pain and fearing death, then we will love it and take care of it all the more. And we will perhaps be able to guard against some of the avoidable tragedies of family break-ups.
So let us cherish this home as we do a kind family member who spares no pains to protect us and our memories with her or his silent blessing.
 Zhou Guoping (1945– ) is a Chinese essay writer and scholar of philosophy from Shanghai, known for his studies and translated works of Friedrich Nietzsche. He is a research fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
 This is an allusion to an often-quoted sentence in the satirical novel Besieged City (Pinyin: Wei Cheng) (1947) by the Chinese literary scholar and writer Qian Zhongshu (1910-1998): “Marriage is like a besieged city: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out”, which is translated from a French proverb.