In ancient China, there was a successful scholar who was also adept at martial arts. He took pride in his martial arts prowess as well as his high-ranking government position. He was arrogant and often bullied his neighbors.
One of his neighbors was a white-bearded old man, who lived with his three sons. One day the old man said to his sons, “I have always taken care of the family. I was often bullied during my lifetime and all of you also suffered from those insults. I am getting old, and it is time for one of you to take charge of the family. Today, I will give each of you ten taels of silver (ancient monetary unit in China). You are to go out and do one virtuous deed. Whoever does the best job will be in charge of the family.”
After some time passed, all of them returned home. The old man asked them what they had done.
The oldest son said, “One day, I saw a pregnant woman jump into a river to commit suicide. I immediately jumped into the river and pulled her back to the bank. I saved two lives because she was pregnant.” The old father nodded without saying a word.
The second son said, “When I passed a village, I saw a house on fire. It was a very windy day. The fire could have spread to the whole village. I alone put out the fire. I saved the lives and properties of many families.” The old father smiled, but did not say anything.
The youngest son said, “I’m so sorry, Dad. I did a very stupid thing. I saved an enemy. One day, while passing by a mountain, I found our neighbor the martial scholar asleep on the edge of a cliff. He had drunken himself into a stupor because he had been celebrating a victorious battle. He could have fallen over the cliff and been smashed to pieces if he turned over. When I first noticed him, I did not care what happened to him because I thought he deserved punishment. However, I changed my mind after I realized that our country still needed him to defend the border and fight our enemies on the battlefields. I woke him up. He was very embarrassed. He bowed to me and then rode away on his horse.”
The old man laughed and made the youngest son the head of the family. When the other two sons did not agree with the choice their father had made, the father explained, “Pulling a woman out of the river only saved one life. Putting out the house fire only saved one family. People can only live in peace and be content when the country is at peace and prosperous. Your youngest brother placed the interests of the country over his personal grudge. That is the highest virtue.”
The youngest son then became the head of the family. The martial scholar acknowledged the wrongful deeds he had done to the old man’s family. He appreciated the youngest son for his forgiveness. The two families got along well and became good neighbors.
Although the story is short, it is very inspiring. The old man and his sons were righteous, particularly the youngest son. His great compassion and forbearance changed the belligerent neighbor.
Virtues that were admired and praised in the past are rarely seen in China today. Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took control of the nation, traditional culture and morality have been intentionally destroyed. After numerous terrifying political movements, people have become wary. It seems that almost everyone sees everyone else as an enemy, and trust is nonexistent between people. Society is corrupt, and bribery is rampant. People are tired of living this way.