Inspiration from Chinese Idioms: "Let's Each Administer Our Own Affairs Without Coordination With Each Other"

Yi Dou

PureInsight | January 3, 2005

[] During the Spring and Autumn Period [1], two of the prominent states, Zhen and Song, once had a major battle in Daji.

Prior to the battle, the General of the Song State, Hua Yuan, butchered lambs and divided the meat among the soldiers in order to boost their morale, but he forgot to give his driver named Yang Zhen a share of the meat. The driver was very upset and developed a grudge against General Hua Yuan. When the battle began on the following day, Yang Zhen told General Hua Yuan, "Let's each administer our own affairs without coordination with each other. You managed the distribution of the meat yesterday because you are the General, but I shall manage the driving of chariot because I am the driver." Then Yang Zhen drove General Hua Yuan into the heart of Zhen State's army. Hua Yuan was captured and the Song State lost the battle.

Many gentlemen of the time made the same comment about the driver: "Yang Zhen had a small heart. He deserved his punishment because he allowed his personal grudge to sabotage the important state battle. He is exactly what the Book of Songs describes as 'a man without a good conscience.'"

[1] The Spring and Autumn Period represented an era in Chinese history between 722 BC and 481 BC. The term comes from the Annals of Spring and Autumn, a historical record penned by Confucius that chronicles this era. During the Spring and Autumn Period, the power of the Western Zhou Dynasty became decentralized. This period was filled with battles and annexation of smaller states. The slow crumbling of nobility resulted in widespread literacy; increasing literacy encouraged freedom of thought and technological advancement. This era is followed by the Warring States Period.

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