A bird startled by the mere twang of a bow-string
During the time of the Warring States (475-221 BC)， there lived a well-known archer named Geng Ying whose art in shooting was excelled by none at his time.
One day, as he was standing by the side of the King of Wei, a flock of swan geese were flying over. With confidence, Geng Ying said to the king, "The twang of my bow-string might bring down a bird." The King doubted much. Just then a solitary swan goose appeared, low and slow in its flight, sad and dolorous in its cry. Instantly Geng Ying bended his bow and forcibly pulled the bowstring. Twang! High up went he shrilling sound into the air and down fell the bird to the ground. The king admired with bewilderment. Gang Ying then explained: "The bird was flying low and slow, because it was already hurt; it was crying in a bitter tone, because it had lost its companions. Due to the fact that it was already hurt and sad at heart, the twang of my strong bow, that birds dreaded most, startled it. The shrilling sound made its heart beat fast, its wings weak, its balance uneven. Thus it fell down just as commonly as a man drops his chop-sticks, at the thunder-stroke, at a dinner table." Henceforth comes the idiom "A bird startled by the mere twang of a bow-string", illustrating a case where a man who had been previously and repeatedly frightened became numb and stupefied by a new thing of the same nature not knowing how to face the new situation.
Give the wrong-doer a way out
Beginning with Yu the GREat, the Xia Dynasty had lasted about four hundred years before Jie became the supreme ruler.
And that was in the 18th century BC. Jie was extremely tyrannical and dissolute. This aroused GREat resentment among the people. Tang, the Chief of the tribe Shang took advantage of this situation to overthrow the Xia Dynasty and established the Shang Dynasty in the early 17th century BC. Among the preparations for the overthrow had been the winning over of popular support.
One day, Tang was having a walk in the open country. He saw a man catching birds with a big net spread in a box-like and mumbling: "Come on, birds! Come into my net. All of you, whether you are flying high or low, east or west. Come into my net!"
Tang walked over and said to the man, "This method is ruthless! You'll spare no birds this way!" With these words, he cut the net down on three sides. Then he murmured in a light voice as if praying: "Oh, birds! Fly to the left or right as you like. And if you're really tired of your life, come into this net!"
When chiefs of other tribes heard about this, they were all moved. They said, "Tang is a good king indeed. He is so kind even to birds and beasts. He must be more merciful to human beings." And very soon, about forty tribes pledged allegiance to Tang.
From that story came the idiom "Open the net on three sides". Later, people changed it into "Give the wrong-doer a way out."， indicating to be lenient to the wrong-doers.
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), a very noble official caled Qi Huangyang lived in the State of Jin. One day, the king summoned him to court and asked, "Now that the magistrate position of Nanyang county is vacant, who do you think is suitable for the post?"
"Xie Hu is the right man for the job," Qi replied without hesitation.
Surprised, the king asked, "Did you say Xie Hu? I thought he's your enemy. Why did you recommend him to take such an important position?"
Smiling, Qi Huangyang said, "Your Majesty didn't ask me my personal opinions o Xie Hu. You simply asked me who I thought would be competent for the position. Therefore I recommended Xie Hu.
the king followed Qi's advice and made Xie Hu magistrate of Nanyang county. And sure enough, Xie Hu administered the county very well and won respect from local people and his colleagues.
Some days later, the king again asked Qi Huangyang for his opinions. This time, the king was trying to find a suitable candidate for a court judge position. Qi Huangyiang recommended Qi Wu for the job. Once again, the king was surprised again by the recommendation because Qi Wu was the son of Qi Huangyang. The king asked: "Who do you recommend your son? Aren't you afraid people will gossip?"
Qi Huangyang replied, "Your Majesty, you asked me who was the most capable person for the position of a judge, and I think Qi Wu is."
Although the king was a bit hesitant about making Qi Wu the judge, he nevertheless gave him the position. As it turned out, Qi Wu was an upright and talented judge, who people GREatly respected.
Qi Huangyang's actions were praised by Confucius who said, "Qi Huangyang was right. He recommended people according to their abilities and talents, not because of personal sentiments， not because of fearing others' gossip. Therefore, people like Qi Huangyang are referred to as people "without selfish motives".
From Confucious' comment came the idiom "Unselfish". Anyone who handles affairs fairly and impartially can be described as "Unselfish; Perfectly impartial".
Uphold justice at the cost of one's blood relation
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), there was many dukedoms under the king of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. These dukedoms often fought one another to expand their territories. And within a dukedom, the struggle for power frequently occurred. A typical case was the murder of the Duke of Wei by his younger brother Zhou Xu.
Zhou Xu committed the crime with the help of an important official called Shi Hou. Eventually, Zhou Xu became duke himself. Then he launched wars against other dukedoms and the people suffered. There were complaints and resentments all around.
When he learned about this, Zhou Xu was worried. He talked with Shi Hou about how to stabilize the situation and win back people's confidence. Shi Hou said:"That's easy. I'll ask my father to speak for us. He is highly esteemed by all the officials and the people. I'm sure he'll help us out."
Shi Hou's father, Shi Que, had been a high-ranking official serving under the former duke. He resigned when Zhu Xu seized power. He hated Zhou Xu for his murder of the former duke. He also hated his own son, Shi Hou, for his part in the murder.
Now, Shi Hou came and asked him for help. the father said, "A duke' ascendance to power should be granted by the king. If the king approved it, all the problems will be solved."
"But how can we bet the king's approval?" Shi Hou asked his father. The old man said, "The Duke of Chen is trusted by the king and his dukedom has good relationship with ours. If you and Zhou Xu go to the Duke of Chen and ask him for help, I'm sure he is willing to say a good word for you before the king."
Shi Hou passed his father's word to Zhu Xu and they went to the Dukedom of Chen. But before they arrived, the old man sent an express letter in secret to the Duke of Chen asking him to kill the two murderers.
As soon as Zhou Xu and Shi Hou arrived in the Dukedom of Chen, they were arrested. Some officials from Wei made a special trip to Chen to kill the two men. They put Zhou Xu to death but hesitated to kill Shi Hou because of his father. When the old man learnt about this, he said firmly :'My son has also committed the murder of the duke. What's the good to have him in the world!" he sent his own man to Chen and beheaded Shi Hou. Later historians commented: "To safeguard the interest of the country, Shi Que did not bend the law for the benefit of his relative. It's really a case of cutting off consanguinity for the sake of righteousness!" Hence comes the idiom "Uphold justice at the cost of one's blood relation".
石厚的父亲石碏曾是前任公爵的上卿。州吁夺权后，他辞去了官职。他痛恨州吁杀害了前任公爵。 同时，他也恨自己的儿子石厚，因为他参与了这场谋杀。 现在，石厚来向他求助。石碏说："诸侯接位，应该得到周天子的许可。只要他同意了，所有的问题都好解决。
州吁和石厚一到陈国，就被抓了起来。卫国的大臣特地到陈国去执法处死这两个人。他们斩了州吁，但对石厚是否要被斩首很迟疑，因为他毕竟是石碏的亲儿子。 当老人得知这个情况后，他坚定的说："我儿子杀卫公有罪，留他在这世上何用?" 他派家臣去陈国斩了石厚。