Stories from History: Kindness Is Rewarded

Li Jian

PureInsight | November 5, 2006

[] In the Song
Dynasty, some criminals were released from prison and sent into exile
on Shanmen Island. A regulation of that dynasty set an upper limit of
people on the island to 300 people. The government provided enough food
for 300 criminals only.  In addition, the island was very small
and couldn't hold more people easily.  Usually when the number of
people in the island exceeded 300, the officials drowned the surplus
criminals in the sea.  The head of Shamen Island, Li Qing, threw
more than 700 criminals into the sea during his term.

When Ma Mo became the head of Deng Zhou (today's Penglai area in
Shangdong Province), he was not happy with this cruel approach. 
He decided to change it.  He wrote to the emperor, "Since the
royal court had forgiven the criminals and let them to live on the
island, then throwing additional criminals into the sea would be
against the wish of the emperor.  In the future, if the quota of
300 is exceeded again, why not release those criminals who have lived
on the island for a long time and ask them to make a living on their
own?" The emperor thought that it was a good idea and gave the order to
change the regulation. From then on, many criminals on the island were
able to live.

Ma Mo didn't have a son.  One day, he had a dream where the
messenger of Yu Huang, the Emperor in Heaven, told him that he would be
given a son and a daughter because of the kind deed he had done for
people on the island.  Afterwards, his wife indeed gave birth to
two children, one boy and one girl.

Ma Mo saved some people's lives and prevented others from committing the crime of murder.  His kindness was rewarded.

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