The National Languages of China (403 B.C.-221 B.C.)
Emperor Li was a tyrant. People criticized him. Duke Chao told the Emperor,
"People can no longer endure tyranny." Emperor Li was angry, so he hired a witch
from Country Wei and ordered her to spy on his critics. When the witch reported
a critic, he would be executed immediately. People did not dare to speak any
more. They expressed their anger with their eyes.
The Emperor was pleased. He told Duke Chao, "I can eliminate the criticism
about me. People dare not speak." Duke Chao said, "Your actions are preventing
people from criticizing you. It is more dangerous to block a person's mouth than
to block a river. A blocked river will flood and hurt many people. An emperor
will risk a similar disaster if he attempts to block free expression. Thus, one
who is in charge of a river will dredge it, and an official who serves people
will guide them to speak openly. A good emperor will encourage all the officials
from dukes to the lowest rank to present poetry that promotes morals and
corrects mistakes. He will urge musicians to present songs that distinguish
virtue from evil, historians to present valuable lessons, and advisors to
present advice. After listening to people's opinions, local officials will
present recommendations to the court officials. They in turn will give advice to
the emperor. The relatives of the emperor will evaluate the work done by the
government. Historians will compile local documents. Based on these opinions and
documents, senior Advisors will design and modify governmental policies. Then
the emperor will carefully consider these policies to make sure that they follow
the will of the people.
"Just as the mountains and rivers of the earth provide goods
and resources, and just as the rich soil of a flat wetland produces food and
clothing, the mouths of people propose good or evil ideas. Applying good ideas
and keeping records of bad ones for are ways to increase the production of
goods, resources, food and clothing. When people express their opinions, the
emperor should help fulfill their wishes. How can you block them? Any attempt to
curtail their speech will not last."
The emperor did not listen to Duke Chao's advice. People did not dare to
speak. Three years later, Emperor Li was exiled to a pig farm.