Stories from History: Guard Against a Mean Person and Promote the Person Who States Things Straightforwardly
(Clearwisdom.net) In the Yongle Period of the Ming Dynasty, Gao Wenya discussed politics. He first mentioned something about Emperor Jianwen, and then he spoke about disaster relief. He was very straightforward and did not avoid forbidden words. Imperial supervisor Chen Ying suggested that Gao Wenya be punished.
Emperor Zhu Li (1360-1424) said, "Gao Wenya has not been an official [prior to this position] and does not know the forbidden words. It is forgivable. There are some points in what he said that should be heeded. Do not throw everything away just because he was too frank and offensive."
Emperor Zhu Li then called in Zhen Ci, the minister of Official Personnel Affairs, and told him, "If we don't punish those who speak straightforwardly, we will hear more honest advice and less flattery. Since ancient times, clear-sighted emperors have always heeded remonstrations. You should be able to understand me. From now on, whenever anyone discusses politics, let us just pay attention to his suggestions to see whether we can make use of them. People have different opinions. We should not punish them because of they use forbidden words. Chen Ying is very mean and cannot help me to implement a kind policy. You should guard against him. Gao Wenya is sincere and straightforward. His honesty should be praised. He should be evaluated by your ministry and promoted to an official position."
(From Classic Stories and Hearings by Yu Jideng, Ming Dynasty)