How An Official in Ancient Times Changed Local Customs and Culture
(Minghui.org) Change is the norm in our modern world. People constantly face the challenge of changing policies, adjusting to change, or both. Understanding what drives change becomes important. Let's look at this story of an ancient official. Maybe his way of changing local customs and bringing improvements to society can serve as a reference.
Changing Family Care for the Better
Xin Gongyi was appointed Governor of Min Province during the Kaihuang period (581 – 600AD) of the Sui Dynasty. The locals were afraid of catching a contagious disease during the time. When someone came down with an illness, everyone, including his or her family would abandon the infected. The person was then left to die alone.
Xin Gongyi believed that the people's attitude was sorely lacking and thought of ways to change the custom. So he had hundreds of sick people from the area brought to his office on stretchers. He sat among them during his office hours. He bought medication with his earnings and personally persuaded the ill people to eat.
His actions sent a message: The governor will take care of citizens on their family's behalf.
The family was asked to take them home after they recovered. The families, including sons and grandsons, were ashamed and thanked Governor Xin. From then on, the local people took care of the sick and treated them kindly. The custom changed for the better.
Reducing Number of Lawsuits
Xin Gongyi was later the governor of Bing Province, where he was in charge of judging legal cases. When people were sentenced to prison, he would stay overnight in his office and sleep in the lobby.
His underlings asked him, “Why do you make yourself suffer like this?”
He replied, “People are taken to jail for committing crimes because as the governor, I have not enforced virtue. How can I feel at ease when people in my jurisdiction are locked up in jail?”
Hearing Xin's words, the prisoners fell to their knees in great shame. Crimes became less, and the number of legal cases reduced. Towns and villages became more peaceful.
Society Mirrors the Governor
Torrential rains exasperated the citizens in Shandong Province. Places from Chenru to Canghai were inundated with floods. Only the areas under Xin Gongyi's governance weren't damaged by natural disaster. During his years as the governor, gold and silver was discovered in the area, increasing residents' wealth.
Xin respected the heavens and was committed to doing good deeds. He strengthened his morals and treated his citizens well. Consequently, he was promoted to a high position and lived for 89 years.
Officials like Xin regarded crimes committed by their subjects as the result of their own bad morals. Natural disasters are avoided when officials are virtuous, the country enjoys peace and the citizens are wealthy.
Source: “Classified Cases of Retribution when the Government Showed Bad Morals” is a collection of stories by Ye Liu from the Yuan Dynasty