Soul of China

A righteous man upholds justice

Between 307 and 314 during the Western Dynasty (265-316 AD), the Central Plains straddling the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River was in turmoil. Liu Min Yuan (劉敏元) and his townmate Guan Ping (管平), who was over 70 years old, fled from Qi (齊, in today’s Shandong province) toward the west.
When they reached Xing Yang (滎陽), they were kidnapped by bandits. Liu Min Yuan was able to escape. But when he realized that Guan Ping was left behind, he decided to go back to the bandits and told them, “This man is old. He cannot live for more years. I am willing to replace him. Please set him free.”
The bandits asked Liu Min Yuan: “Is this man your relative?”
Liu Min Yuan replied, “No, only a townmate. He lives alone and has no son. At his old age, I don’t think he could work for you anymore if you asked him to. Even if you kill him and eat his flesh, I have more flesh than him. So, please spare him.”
One of the bandits raised his voice and told Liu Min Yuan: “I will not let the old man go, and neither will I let you.”
Brandishing the sword in his hand, Liu Min Yuan said, “I don’t intend to live. But before I die, I will make sure that I kill you. This poor old man is not my blood relative, neither my mentor nor my friend. It is only because he came to me and sought refuge with me that I am willing to substitute my own body for him. If you can’t even grant the request, you are without any virtue and morality.”
The chief of the bandits then ordered the other bandit: “This man is a righteous man who upholds justice. Don’t harm him.”
In the end, the bandits freed both Liu Min Yuan and Guan Ping.