Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 24, Part 12

Trey Smith

When Kuan Chung fell ill, Duke Huan went to inquire how he was. "Father Chung," he said, "you are very ill. If -- can I help but say it? -- if your illness should become critical, then to whom could I entrust the affairs of the state?"

Kuan Chung said, "To whom would Your Grace like to entrust them?"

"Pao Shu-ya," said the duke.

"That will never do! He is a fine man, a man of honesty and integrity. But he will have nothing to do with those who are not like himself. And if he once hears of someone's error, he won't forget it to the end of his days. If he were given charge of the state, he would be sure to tangle with you on the higher level and rile the people below him. It would be no time at all before he did something you considered unpardonable."

"Well then, who will do?" asked the duke.

"If I must give an answer, then I would say that Hsi P'eng will do. He forgets those in high places and does not abandon those in low ones. He is ashamed that he himself is not like the Yellow Emperor, and pities those who are not like himself. He who shares his virtue with others is called a sage; he who shares his talents with others is called a worthy man. If he uses his worth in an attempt to oversee others, then he will never win their support; but if he uses it to humble himself before others, then he will never fail to win their support. With such a man, there are things within the state that he doesn't bother to hear about, things within the family that he doesn't bother to look after. If I must give an answer, I would say that Hsi P'eng will do."

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Too often, when the head of a state or company dies and there is no agreed upon process for selecting a successor, a power struggle ensues. The person who comes out on top tends to be the individual who is the most cunning and ruthless, not the individual best suited to lead.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

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