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Whether We Stay or Run Away


This reminded me of a passage in “Historical Records,” the great historical tome of ancient China, written by Sima Qian. “the Chinese Herodotus.” In the time of the second Qin emperor, a force of 900 men was forcibly conscripted to garrison
a town some miles away. They started out, but heavy rains made the road
impassable. This meant they would be late–an offense punishable by death.
Writes the historian: “Chen She and Wu Guang accordingly began to plot
together. ‘As things stand, we face death whether we stay or run away,’
they said, ‘while if we were to start a revolt we would likewise face death.
Since we must die in any case, would it not be better to die fighting for
our country?’….” That is how discipline collapses in an army–or a
country–run by fear.


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