Waiting for Suicidal Hares

The enlightened ruler does not expect to follow blindly tradition or convention. Let your present reality be your standard, and establish appropriate measures for society accordingly.

There was a plowman in the Song Dynasty who watched a running hare crash into a stump in his field; the hare broke its neck and died. Hoping to get another hare in the same fashion, the plowman abandoned his plow and watched the stump. He failed to catch another, and the whole kingdom mocked him.

Trying to govern the people of this age using tradition as a guide is the same as watching a stump and waiting for more suicidal hares.

–From Han Feizi, The Five Vermin of the State (translation from the Classical Chinese is my own)



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