17 February, 2006

Lord Shang's Fate

Lord Shang, a famed legalist, who served Qin fell victim to his own rules. During the peak of his power, he set up rules governing every aspect of life for both aristocrats and civilians. He punished those at the top of government, including the heir to the throne and his teacher and when the emperor died and the heir took power, Lord Shang was unable to hide from persecution by the harsh laws he put into place. Lord Shang was able to insult the unworthy but his harsh methods were ineffective in putting the worthy in power, therefore when his benefactors died - so did he and his ideas.

The moral of the story is that one should not try to sew what one is unwilling to reap. By his harshness and rigidity, Lord Shang was unable to escape an unjust end. When one puts policies in place without ensuring that the policies are sound and that competent persons will continue those sound policies once the current government is gone, one puts her or his-self in danger of falling prey to either unjust policies or unjust government. What is politically expedient now, may be disaster in the future for state and ruler alike.

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