Zi-chan Did Not Allow Inexperienced He Yin to Be a City
(A historical event in 542 BCE)
Zuo's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals
Zi-pi, a high-ranking official, wanted He Yin to
be the manager of his private city. Zi-chan said, "He Yin is very young. I doubt
he is competent enough to be a city manager." Zi-pi said, "I appreciate his
honesty. He will learn more and more about how to govern a city while doing his
Zi-chan said, "You must not do that. One who likes a person
desires to help that person. Now you give an inexperienced worker whom you like
a heavy responsibility in city affairs. It is like allowing someone who has not
learned how to use a knife to butcher cattle or sheep. He may hurt himself. If
you treat someone you like in a harmful way, who would want to be liked by you?
Your importance to the State of Zheng is like a column to a
building. If columns collapse, the beam will break. Then I will be crushed also.
Therefore, I must voice my opinion fully. If you have beautiful silk, you will
not allow an inexperienced tailor to make clothes out of it. Your feudal land is
what your career depends on, how could you let an inexperienced laborer manage
it? It seems to me that you like beautiful silk much more than your career. I
know that only after graduating from the school of political science may one
start his political career. I have never heard that one begins to study politics
by using public welfare as his guinea pig. If you let an inexperienced laborer
be the city manager, it will cause great harm. Like hunting, if one is skillful
in archery and riding a carriage, then he is able to capture game. If one has
learned neither archery nor how to ride a carriage, then he will worry about
whether the bouncing carriage might turn over. How can he have time to think of
Zi-pi said, "Your advice is great! It is my fault. I have
heard that a man with vision can see far and aim at a great goal and that a man
without vision cannot not see far and can only focus on small things. I am
shortsighted. I know how to protect my clothes because they are attached to my
body. However, I fail to pay attention to the city management which greatly
affects my career. Without your advice, I would never understand my mistake. A
few days ago, I said, 'You are competent to manage the State of Zheng. I am
competent to manage my feudal land.' Now I realize that I am not talented enough
even for this small-size management. From now on, even for my family estate, I
would like to follow your advice."
Zi-chan said, "One's mind, like his face, is different from
others. I don't expect that we will have the same solution for every problem.
However, I would feel irresponsible if I did not fully express my opinion."
Zi-pi considered Zi-chan trustworthy, so he appointed him to
be his political adviser. Consequently, Zi-chan gained the opportunity to take
charge in state affairs of the State of Zheng. Later, he became Zheng's Prime