China: To place oneself in the position of another

During the Spring and Autumn period 722-481 BC of China, there was a winter which was extremely cold.

It had been snowing heavily in the State of Qi for 3 days in succession. Clad in a fox fur gown and seated in the imperial hall enjoying the snow scene outside, Duke Qi Jing was fascinated by what he saw.

The Duke hoped that it would continue to snow for a few more days to make the snow more beautiful.

The Prime Minister, Yan Zi came in, and stood beside the Duke for a while as if he had something troubling him.

The Duke told Yan Zi in a very happy mood, "It has been snowing for three days and the snow on the ground has piled up so thinck, but, strangely, it is not cold at all. It is, on the contrary, as warm as spring."

Seeing Duke Qi Jing in such a frame of mind, Yan Zi deliberately asked, "Is it really not cold at all ?"

The Duke nodded his head with a smile as if saying, "I am not a child. Don't tell me I can't differentiate between warm and cold."

Knowing that the Duke did no understand what he was driving at, Yan Zi said, "I've heard that wise kings of ancient times often thought that there might be people starving when they had just had their hearty meals; that there might be people shivering in the cold when they were enjoying the comfort of warm clothes; and that there were yet people toiling laboriously when they were having an easy time. Why don't you think of others ?"

These words made the Duke feel ashamed.

The saying "To place oneself in the position of another" came from this story.

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