Good hearts and good minds down the Belt and Road

The Beijing Swift – By Prof. Samitha Hettige ©

According to a Chinese folk tale about six centuries ago people of south China used to train Elephants for various tasks which is difficult for humans to perform as in Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. South China borders Laos which is also known as “the land of million Elephants”. Just as we do the ancient Chinese also believed that Elephants are very intelligent and according to this story they even believed that an Elephant could see into a man’s mind and heart.

A Judge in South China has had a wise old Elephant whom he used for this test when giving verdicts of cases brought before him. Accordingly one peasant came before the judge and said that his house had been robbed and pleaded the judge to punish the robbers. Sometime later five robbers were arrested and were produced before the judge. All the robbers pleaded not guilty. The house owner identified one man but could not identify the others. The judge was of a different view and said that the identified robber looks innocent and called in his Elephant to test the robbers’ hearts and minds. He told those around that those who are not guilty need not be afraid.

The judge then ordered the Elephant to test the men. The identified robber and three others looked very happy but the fifth man was shivering. At the command the Elephant crushed the shivering man. The Judge released the four good men, advised the house owner to be cautious when accusing innocent good people and send the Elephant for a meal and a rest. After a while few wise men went to the judge and said that Elephants cannot read the hearts and minds of people. They insisted that this practice cannot be accepted and that it has to be stopped.  Wise men told the judge that an average human may live a maximum 100 years and still may know little and specially do not know how to read the hearts and minds of other humans. Hence, they demanded an explanation on how an Elephant which may live a lesser life span and much less intelligent than a human would know the hearts and minds of humans. The wise judge agreed and said that trial before the Elephant was only confession through fear.

The Elephant has the strength of many humans. It can only trumpet loud to get attention but doesn’t have the mental capacity to identify good minds and good hearts, said the judge. Last few weeks the entire world saw men with Elephant’s might trumpet loud about the bad hearts and the bad minds of the People Republic of China. Still none from the top to the bottom in China was shivering and worried. They continue to serve global the community in the COVID-19 aftermath along the Belt and Road network. All partners in the Belt and Road network should think like the wise judge. We should know who our sincere and wise friends are. It is only those with bad hearts and bad minds that keep on blaming others and shiver in front of natural justice (Ref Chinese folk tales).

The writer is an Academic and a Broadcaster. Views expressed are personal and may not necessarily be the views of his affiliations.

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