Stories from History: Bring Comfort and Great Kindness to Common People


PureInsight | October 26, 2006

[] Cheng Hao was
a scholar in the Northern Song dynasty. He had a strong desire to help
others and bring comfort to the common people. No matter where his
official post took him, he took good care of the local people as if
they were his own relatives. When he held a position in Fugou County,
he helped the local citizens solve many real problems.

When he arrived in the county, he heard the local water supply was
salty. He asked his staff, "How can people keep drinking this kind of
water?" His staff said: "You may not be aware of the situation. The
only well that produces good quality water in the neighborhood is in
the dormitory of the monks at a temple. Women are not allowed to go
there to get water." After consulting with aides and pondering over it,
Cheng decided to dig a new well using the same underground water source
so the water problem would be solved. People all said, "Magistrate
Cheng has solved our water problem that had existed for so many years."

Wang Zhongzheng was an inspector and a favorite of the Emperor.
Everywhere he went local officials would spend lots of money to please
him. When he arrived in Fugou County, the official in charge asked
Cheng Hao how to entertain Wang Zhongzheng. Cheng Hao answered him
bluntly, "Our county is poor. How can we follow other counties and
spend lots of money on him? Furthermore, the money is from the people.
We shouldn't spend the money recklessly." The uprightness of Cheng Hao
awed Wang Zhongzheng. He never went back to the county during Cheng
Hao's tenure there.  

Cheng Hao wrote to a friend, "I believe in using humanity to educate
the citizens." Once a thief was arrested, Cheng Hao said to the thief,
"If you promise to mend your behavior, I will settle your case with
leniency." The thief promised that he would change and Cheng Hao
released him. When the thief committed another crime, a county officer
arrested him. The thief felt so ashamed to see Cheng Hao again that he
killed himself.  

When Cheng Hao had to leave Fugou County, the local citizens tearfully urged him to stay.

When he was an official in Shangyuan County, the Beitang dyke gave away
and repair was needed right away. Otherwise it would affect irrigation
of the rice fields. The repair would require much manpower. Cheng knew
it would be too late if he waited for  approval from his superior
to start the repair. He quickly organized the masses to repair the
burst dyke and then reported what he had done to his superior. His
assistant advised him, "Don't you know that you will be criticized by
your superior for making the repair without authorization?" Cheng Hao
answered, "I didn't have a choice. If I waited for my superior to send
helpers, the crops would be withered. How would the peasants be able to
feed themselves the following year? Besides, I did this for the people
and even if I receive punishment, I would not hesitate to do it again."

Thus, under his leadership and supervision, the dyke was patched up
quickly. The harvest of that year was extremely good. Peasants all
said, "We are lucky to have Cheng Hao as our county magistrate. He is
such a kind and considerate official."

Traditional Chinese culture says, "Treat the joy of the world as one's
own joy; treat the worry of the world as one's own worry." Officials
who believe in such a saying wish to bring comfort to the common
people. They are concerned about the sufferings of the ordinary
citizens and try to take care of common people. At the same time, they
also try hard to improve the morality of the ordinary people with their
virtue. This is the guiding political philosophy followed by the
Confucian School all through the ages.    

Translated from:

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