Stories from History: Avoid Eloquent Speakers, Employ the Honest and Dutiful
(Clearwisdom.net) Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty is considered one of the most benevolent rulers in Chinese history. His reign and that of his son, Emperor Jing, are often collectively known as the “Rule of Wen and Jing.” Their governing was renowned for its general stability and relaxed laws.
There is a story about Emperor Wen's ability to accept criticism, whereby he avoided the mistake of choosing an articulate speaker over someone who possessed the proper capabilities and talents.
One time, Emperor Wen visited the royal park to look at the animals. While he stood in front of the tiger cage, he asked the park ranger questions about the animals. The ranger was unable to provide the answers immediately. The animal caretaker was nearby, and he quickly pushed his way forward to answer the Emperor's questions. The Emperor was very pleased to hear the answers, and he ordered his minister, Zhang Shizhi, to promote the animal caretaker and replace the park ranger.
Zhang Shizhi said to the Emperor, “Both Zhou Bo and Zhang Xiangru hold important positions at the royal court and are well respected by others. However, neither of them are eloquent speakers. If your majesty promotes the animal caretaker only because he is an articulate speaker and knows how to please his superiors, then others might follow suit. Everyone might try to improve their speech and not be as mindful of their duties. I ask your highness to consider the consequences.” Emperor Wen thought Zhang Shizhi's words made sense and thus withdrew his order.
There seems to be an on-going issue since ancient times in regards to employing the proper person for a job. One often gauges a person's ability by the way he speaks, which can sometimes be a serious mistake. Some people utilize their ability to speak in order to flatter their superiors. Others attempt to uncover their boss's likes and dislikes and then speak to them with the intention of fulfilling their own self-interests.
The animal caretaker was that kind of person. He overstepped his superior and spoke on his boss's behalf to the Emperor. He was showing off his knowledge, and instead of being humble and kindly to help his superior, he almost replaced him. He failed to act out of kindness and did not know when to back down. Zhang Shizhi was selfless, observant, fair, and not easily swayed by smooth talkers. The Emperor was fortunate to have Zhang by his side, and his timely reminder kept the Emperor from falling for the deception.
Throughout history, there have been many people using such methods to seek gains for themselves, and there are quite a few such people in our modern day as well. Those involved in government affairs as well as employers should pay close attention to this issue. One should focus on the candidate's capabilities and identify those who are selfless and responsible, instead of those whose outward appearances aim to impress others. Doing so will thus minimize losses to the country and the company.
In today's world, there is a shortage of people who are willing to work hard for others, remain cautious in their speech, and who are indifferent to personal gains. Many take perceptiveness, aggressiveness, and eagerness to impress others to be strong capabilities when such traits are merely the result of a decline in human moral values. The most capable are those who can tell right from wrong and who will not go along blindly with the flow of modern society’s degenerating moral standards. Those who are innately calm and stable won't lose their blessings on account of the kindness they possess.
Those who hold lower positions in society should also value virtue, be dutiful, kind, and fulfill their responsibilities. They should not show off their capabilities or be feisty. Each person has their own destiny. Fighting and arguing will not create any blessings.