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Drinking Poison to Quench One’s Thirst

Drinking poison to quench thirst. (Image:  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
Drinking poison to quench thirst. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

In China’s 5,000 years of traditional culture, Chinese phrases or idioms stand out as a shining pearl in the treasure of the Chinese language. They are concise, vivid, expressive, and an accumulation of historical facts and rich ethnic cultures.

The formation of each phrase reflects historical truths that mirror China’s politics, military, culture, folk customs, ethics, and ideals. They help us better understand the long history of China, its unmatchable wisdom, and its timeless language.

Huo Xu defends his uncle

During the Eastern Han Dynasty, there was a man named Huo Xu, who was very intelligent. When he was 15 years old, someone made a false accusation that his uncle had altered the emperor’s edict. His uncle, Song Huang, was later arrested and severely tortured in jail.

Liu Bei was a warlord who founded the state of Shu Han in the Three Kingdoms period. (Image: wikipedia / CC0 1.0)

Liu Bei was a warlord who founded the state of Shu Han in the Three Kingdoms period. (Image: wikipedia / CC0 1.0)

Huo Xu wrote a letter to defend his uncle. He said that his uncle was a born courtier and his career was very stable. He was already the highest official in his area and would be recruited into the royal palace very soon. In addition, his character was outstanding.

Why would such a person risk his life by changing the emperor’s edict? Even if his uncle was uneasy with the edict, he would certainly choose a proper and reasonable way to resolve the situation. Huo Xu went on to say that the behavior his uncle was accused of was like eating poisoned food to fight hunger, or drinking poison to quench one’s thirst. It is impossible for anyone to do such a thing.

General Liang Shang read the letter and wrote a letter to the emperor defending Song Huang. Today, people use the phrase “Drinking poison to quench thirst” to describe someone who wants to resolve a problem immediately while ignoring the consequences such a solution would bring.

The painting 'Departure Herald' shows the emperor's large procession heading toward the imperial tombs of the Ming emperors. (Image: wikipedia / CC0 1.0)

The painting ‘Departure Herald’ shows the emperor’s large procession heading toward the imperial tombs of the Ming emperors. (Image: wikipedia / CC0 1.0)

 

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