Chapter 296

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Chapter 296: My heart is so bitter, let me be drunk and dreamy!

Lin Beifan turned around and smiled, saying, “Lord Yao, what’s the matter?”

Yao Zheng bowed again and said with a frown, “Lord Lin, please forgive my dullness. I didn’t quite understand the principles of being an official that you taught earlier. I humbly ask for your guidance.”

Lin Beifan nodded, “I see! It’s also time for dinner. How about joining me back at my residence? We can have some wine and food while discussing this matter.”

Yao Zheng thought of the fine wine at Lin Beifan’s house, his interest in wine already piqued, and he replied, “Respectfully, I will follow your lead.”

After about the time it takes an incense stick to burn, they had returned to Lin’s residence.

A table was set in the study with wine and dishes, and they continued their discussion on the principles of being an official over their meal.

“Lord Yao, if you have any points of confusion, feel free to ask,” Lin Beifan said.

“Thank you, Lord Lin, for giving me this opportunity! Today, I accompanied Lord Lin on the street patrol, learning about the ways of being an official. Through those three examples, I’ve learned a lot and gained insights. However…”

Yao Zheng furrowed his brows again, “There are so many threads, I don’t know where to begin!”

Lin Beifan nodded, “I understand. Let me help you organize your thoughts.”

“Thank you, Lord Lin, for your guidance. I’m all ears,” Yao Zheng replied.

Lin Beifan set aside his chopsticks and declared solemnly, “The initial principle I intend to instill in my students is the principle of a solid foundation. This entails comprehending your role as a public servant and the underlying purpose it holds. Essentially, this can be encapsulated in six words: For the country, for the people.”

Yao Zheng immediately nodded, “Lord Lin is absolutely right!”

“For the country, for the people. The people are the foundation; without the people, there is no country. So, I want them to start from the people’s perspective. We often say that the people suffer, and we do know that they suffer, but in reality, the people suffer even more than we imagine.”

Lin Beifan took a sip of wine and continued, “That’s why I want them to go down to the grassroots, to understand the hardships of the common folk. Lord Yao, let me ask you: an elder who’s reached the age of 50 and still carries a sedan chair to earn a living, do you think they suffer?”

Yao Zheng nodded heavily, “They do suffer!”

“Lord Yao, let me ask you again: a family so impoverished that they have to sell their daughters into servitude to support the elderly and the young, do you think they suffer?”

Yao Zheng once again nodded emphatically, “They suffer!”

“Lord Yao, let me ask you once more: a young and able-bodied person who ends up begging on the streets despite having their limbs intact, do you think they suffer?”

Yao Zheng hesitated, glanced at Lin Beifan, and replied, “Lord Lin, I don’t believe they suffer. They have limbs and strength; they could certainly find work to support themselves. Instead, they’re avoiding work and choosing to beg. They simply deserve their plight.”

Lin Beifan smiled and shook his head, “Lord Yao, don’t judge merely by appearances; you’re overlooking their inner struggles. Although they don’t endure the physical hardships of life, they endure emotional suffering. Because they see no hope, no chance for improvement, despite having ambitions, they are powerless to pursue them. So, they resort to numbing themselves.”

Lin Beifan glanced at the old man beside him and said, “This kind of suffering is also known as the pain of unrecognized talent, the pain of being depressed due to unfulfilled aspirations. Lord Yao, you should have a deep understanding of this.”

“I see!” Yao Zheng took a sip of wine, reminiscing about his past experiences, a touch of bitterness in his expression. “It is indeed very bitter.”

“That’s why I want them to empathize with the people’s situation. As long as, in their future careers as officials, they remember the scenes they witnessed today and feel a bit of compassion, being able to slightly favor the common people, I will be satisfied.”

“Lord Lin’s words are absolutely right. I toast to you,” Yao Zheng said, and they clinked glasses before finishing their drinks.

Lin Beifan continued, “The second principle I want to teach students is the principle of dialectics. This means looking at issues from a dialectical perspective, seeing the positive and negative sides, understanding the surface and the essence.”

“For example, the matter of the elders carrying sedan chairs for the younger generation.”

“Having read the works of Confucius and Mencius, we know that such an action is not right. The elders should not carry sedan chairs for the younger generation. The younger generation should not sit in sedan chairs carried by the elders, as it goes against the principles of human ethics.”

“But, let’s look at it from a different angle.”

“Did the elder do something wrong? No, he didn’t. He’s doing these laborious tasks to survive, to have food to eat. If he doesn’t do this, he might starve to death.”

“Did the younger person do something wrong? No, he didn’t. He paid for the service, and when you pay for something, you should receive the service you paid for. If he doesn’t sit in the sedan chair, the two elders might starve.”

“Nobody is wrong…” Lin Beifan gestured with his hands, asking, “Could it be that our Confucian principles are wrong?”

“Well…” Yao Zheng was at a loss for words, unable to answer.

“Actually, they aren’t wrong!” Lin Beifan smiled, “The Confucian principles teach us to respect the elderly and cherish the young. If we don’t respect the elderly and cherish the young, if the generation gap is chaotic, then human ethics collapse and the world falls into chaos.”

Yao Zheng nodded slightly, “Indeed.”

“Since nobody is wrong, then who is wrong?” Lin Beifan asked again.

“Well…” Yao Zheng was once again at a loss for words, unable to answer.

“In fact, nobody is wrong; it’s just a matter of different perspectives! Confucius and Mencius advocated these virtues to enlighten the world. The two elders are doing what they must to survive. The younger person paid, so he should receive the service he paid for.”

“Selling daughters into servitude, young people begging, it’s the same principle!”

“Therefore…” Lin Beifan smiled, “What I want to teach the students is that many things aren’t simply black or white; there’s no definitive answer. Blindly following books is not as good as using your judgment. Many things require practical consideration. This way, when they become officials, they’ll remain calm and composed, considering all aspects, and will think from the perspective of the common people, instead of implementing policies recklessly.”

“Thank you for the lesson…” Yao Zheng once again raised his glass to Lin Beifan.

“The third principle I want to teach students is the principle of choice. This means knowing how to make decisions and how to solve problems when they arise.”

“For instance, the matter of selling daughters into servitude.”

Lin Beifan smiled, “Even individuals with high moral standards can’t accept selling daughters into servitude. And indeed, this matter is morally unacceptable and falls into a legal gray area, unsupported by the law. But if this action isn’t taken, the entire family might starve.”

“As enforcers of the law, how should they act? How should they make choices when faced with this situation?”

Yao Zheng furrowed his brows, silent.

“To be honest, it’s really difficult!” Lin Beifan shook his head with a clicking sound. “If you uphold the authority of the law, then that family of eight will starve to death! If you don’t do this, can you justify wearing your official robe?”

Yao Zheng cupped his hands, humbly seeking advice, “Lord Lin, what should be done in such a situation? Please enlighten me!”

Lin Beifan shook his head, “There’s no practical solution. Sometimes, let the people report, and let the officials ignore it as if they didn’t see it.”

“Ah, it’s challenging!” Yao Zheng sighed deeply…

“The fourth principle I want to teach students is the path of pursuit. This means what I, as an official, should strive for, what goals to achieve, what problems to solve. This is our ultimate pursuit as officials.”

“Lord Yao, what do you think is the ultimate pursuit of us as officials?” Lin Beifan asked.

Yao Zheng frowned, “For the country, for the people?”

“That’s the foundation, the starting point. I’m asking about the destination!” Lin Beifan said.

Yao Zheng sighed, “Please pardon my dullness, I can’t understand.”

“Actually, the answer is quite clear!”

Lin Beifan smiled, “As long as the elders don’t have to carry sedan chairs, they can stay home in their old age, with their children and grandchildren around. Impoverished families won’t have to sell daughters into servitude, every family can afford to raise their own children, enjoying family harmony. Young people won’t have to feel hopeless about society; they can achieve whatever they want through effort.”

“Summing it up in 12 words: The elderly have support, the young are provided for, and labor is rewarded!”

“As long as these three points are achieved…” Lin Beifan chuckled with satisfaction, “The country will prosper, the people will be strong, and the world will be in harmony.”

“You’re absolutely right!” Yao Zheng slapped his thigh, excitedly saying, “A question I’ve puzzled over my whole life has been answered by Lord Lin with just a few words! The ultimate pursuit of officials is indeed to provide support for the elderly, care for the young, and reward labor. By achieving these three points, how could the world not be peaceful?”

He immediately lifted his glass, “Thank you for enlightening me, Lord Lin. I toast to you!”

Lin Beifan exclaimed, “Cheers!”

After three more rounds of drinks, everyone felt at ease. Only then did they express the courage in their hearts.

Yao Zheng furrowed his brows again and smiled bitterly, “Indeed, this is the ultimate pursuit of officials. But achieving these three points is truly difficult, almost impossible.”

Lin Beifan nodded in deep agreement, sighing, “Indeed, it’s incredibly difficult! Look at me, to fulfill this ambition, I’ve fought corrupt officials and sycophants in the court, even stooping to their level. I’ve truly struggled! I’ve faced so much injustice and suffered so much, Lord Yao, do you know?”

As he reminisced about the past, an indescribable pain welled up in his heart. He couldn’t help but take a sip of wine, using it to drown his sorrow.

Yao Zheng looked at Lin Beifan enjoying the palace wine and the sumptuous delicacies on the table. He said, “Lord Lin, you claim to be in a difficult situation, and I can understand that. But to say you’ve suffered injustice and hardship, forgive me if I can’t agree.”

“Lord Yao, what you see is only the surface. How many can truly understand the pain in my heart?” Lin Beifan patted his chest, a pained expression on his face. “My heart is truly bitter. Even the finest wine can’t wash away the bitterness. Sometimes, I just want to drown in this drunken dream!”

“Lord Lin, you have such beautiful thoughts. Sometimes, I’ve also thought the same way. But my skin isn’t as thick as yours; I wouldn’t dare say it,” Yao Zheng said admiringly.

Lin Beifan stood up and banged the table, “Less talk, drink!”

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