Insight from Xu Xu’s “Passive Approach” in Fending off a Plague
(Minghui.org) There was an account recorded in the collection of stories “Sou Shen Ji,” which talked about Xu Xu in the Later Han period, who was well-known for his strong sense of justice in law enforcement. When he served as magistrate of Xiaohuang County, a large locust plague broke out in the neighboring county, and all vegetation was eaten up by locusts. When the devouring locusts passed through Xiaohuang County, however, they did not stop, and just flew away without causing any damage.
When the governor heard that Xu Xu did not do much to control the locusts, he went into a rage and removed Xu Xu from his position.
To everyone’s dismay, as soon as Xu Xu lost his position and left Xiaohuang County, locusts returned in large numbers. People from Xiaohuang County gathered together and appealed to the governor for Xu Xu, saying that he was an exceptionally good official and that when he was in charge of Xiaohuang County, even locusts would not dare to come near him.
After the governor learned the truth, he apologized to Xu Xu and asked him to resume his post. As Xu Xu was reinstated, locusts in Xiaohuang County flew away immediately.
From the governor’s point of view, when a disaster occurred, local officials should worry about it day and night, and work hard to fight the disaster. They should apply for funds and food relief from the central court, sending express reports one after another. But Xiaohuang County governed by Xu Xu took a “passive approach,” and it also turned out to be the only county in the region that escaped damage during the locust plague.
How could it have happened that way?
Plagues Have Eyes
The great plagues in history, be it the devastating Plague of Justinian, the Black Death in Europe, the deadly Spanish flu or others, all seemed to have occurred with a predetermined arrangement.
Take the well-known Justinian Plague for example. In the spring of 542, a great plague broke out in Constantinople, the capital city of Eastern Rome, and it ended four months later. People thought the disaster was over, but it was only a temporary break for those who had escaped earlier.
The plague seemed to follow an established route and spread from one place to another. In 558, it returned to Constantinople all of a sudden, ravaging the entire city for a second time, killing a large number of residents.
By then, Rome had already accumulated quite some experience in epidemic prevention, and the Byzantine public health provision was well developed and was able to offer drugs to the populace to prevent the plague from spreading. People began to wear masks and tried to stay inside their homes.
However, all these prevention efforts appeared to have little effect. Historian Evagrius Scholasticus, who personally experienced the Justinian Plague, described the situation in his book Ecclesiastical History (AD431-594): “The ways in which the disease was communicated, were various and unaccountable: for some perished by merely living with the infected, others by only touching them, others by having entered their chamber, others by frequenting public places. Some, having fled from the infected cities, escaped themselves, but imparted the disease to the healthy. Some were altogether free from contagion, though they had associated with many who were afflicted, and had touched many not only in their sickness but also when dead. Some, too, who were desirous of death, on account of the utter loss of their children and friends, and with this view placed themselves as much as possible in contact with the diseased, were nevertheless not infected; as if the pestilence struggled against their purpose.”
Another historian who witnessed the devastation of the plague first hand was John of Ephesus. He was also author of the book “Lives of the Eastern Saints.” John described how they traveled in terror from one place to another to try to get away from the deadly disease: “Day by day we too - like everybody knocked at the gate of the tomb. If it was evening we thought that death would come upon us in the night, and again if morning had broken, our face was turned the whole day toward the tomb.”
“In these countries we saw desolate and groaning villages and corpses spread out on the earth, with no one to take up (and bury) them,” he described.
Sometimes in a city, only one or two families were infected, and the rest of the households remained safe. In other cities, very few people survived, and an entire city was destroyed.
Some people who were not afflicted thought they had escaped the plague, but died in the following year. What was more difficult to comprehend was that some residents successfully escaped from the epidemic area and arrived in a city free of infection. However, when the epidemic spread to that city, those who got infected were still those who had fled there earlier. People were talking about these strange things and found them incredible.
Cities were paralyzed; entertainment activities came to a standstill; there was no more trade, and handicrafts and services became stagnant, and produce was left unharvested in the fields. What followed next after the plague became subdued were famine, inflation, and food shortage. Some people escaped the plague, but could not survive the famine and starved to death in the end.
Lessons from History
A pessimistic mood permeated in society during the plague, and people began to believe that no one could know what would happen in the end.
Procopius, a Byzantine historian, described victims in his book “Secret History” as suffering from delusions, nightmares, fevers and swellings in the groin, armpits, and behind their ears. Procopius recounts that, while some sufferers lapsed into comas, others became highly delusional. Many victims suffered for days before death, while others died almost immediately after the onset of symptoms. He laid blame for the outbreak on the emperor, declaring Justinian to be either a devil or that the emperor was being punished by God for his evil ways.
Byzantine intellectuals also shared a similar understanding, with many of them believing that the wealthy and superior Romans had long indulged in luxury and sensuality, and failed to abide by the teachings of the Creator and the rule of law in the human society. As a result, the plagues struck as a warning from heaven.
People who experienced the pain and suffering felt as if the plague had eyes – people who were desperate to escape failed to do so, and yet, those who didn’t want to flee remained safe and sound. They wrote down the lessons from the devastating plague so that people would not forget the root cause of the plague – people had forgotten the teachings of the Creator.
As more and more people realized that their moral decline and unscrupulous indulgence had violated the will of heaven and that they were being punished as a result of this, the plague gradually disappeared.
“Deviation from the Divine” Has Led Humanity Off-track
Some people may say that we are now in the 21st century and modern science has developed big data, genetic technology, quantum technology, and human beings can master the secrets of a microscopic world. However, the truth is that scientists who have become more authoritative in their field of study tend to remain more humble and respectful of the mystery of Mother Nature. Scientific progress and development do not necessarily contradict spiritual faith. In fact, among the Nobel Prize winners, more than 80% of them profess to having some form of religious faith.
In today’s atheist China ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), people no longer believe in gods and the divine; they are taught to fight heaven and earth, believing that the power of man can conquer and alter Mother Nature. Countless people have been deceived by the lies of atheism and have turned to believe in class struggle, and that power comes from the barrel of a gun. They have forgotten the fine principles of respecting the divine and that good and evil would be duly rewarded.
Humanity’s science is indeed quite advanced, but we still can’t defeat the “plague gods.” In the face of a tsunami, an earthquake, a big fire, or a great plague, human beings remain very weak and vulnerable.
Right now, humanity is once again subjected to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Could the “plague gods” be possibly driven away by the CCP’s harshly enforced quarantines and restriction of movement?
Without a clear understanding about the evil “atheism” and a deep reflection upon the drastic decline of social morality and the corruption of people's hearts and minds, and without a true restoration of traditional culture and beliefs, it could only be wishful thinking that the pandemic would somehow disappear “on its own accord.”
When the Wuhan coronavirus infection broke out in 2020, many infected citizens in Wuhan gained a new life in the most desperate situation by sincerely reciting “Falun Dafa is good. Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.” Their miraculous recoveries could never be explained by atheist doctrines, but some believe it’s because the citizens’ good hearts and righteous support of Falun Dafa in the face of CCP’s tyrannic persecution was heard by the divine that they’ve received blessings as a result.