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Carrying Faggots to Put Out a Fire

In the last years of the Warring States
period, the State of Qin attacked the State of Wei on a large scale repeatedly
and occupied large areas of land, for the State of Wei was too weak to defend
itself. In 273 B.B., the qin army launched another attack upon the State of Wei
with a momentum more vigorous than ever. 

The king of the State of Wei summoned
his officials,and asked with a worried look if anyone could propose a way to
defeat the Qin army. After years of chaos caused by the wars,the officials
trembled when fighting was mentioned, and no one dared to speak ofresistance. At
the critical moment when a large enemy force was bearing down upon the border,
most of the offinials persuaded the king to sue for peace, at the cost of giving
away to the State of Qin the large area of land north of the Huanghe River and
south of the Taihang Mountain.

However Su Dai, a counsellor, did not agree. He
hurried up to the king and said:"Your Majesty, they don't think about the
interests of the country at all.It is just because they are cowardly and afraid
of death that they ask you to sue for peace by betraying the country. Of course
you can temperarily satisfy the ambition of the king of the State of Qin is
insatiably greedy. It will never stop assaulting us until our land is totally
given away."

Once there was a man whose house was on fire. People told him to put
out the fire with water, but he would not listen. Instead, he carried a faggot
to put out the fire, only to make the fire fiercer. That was because he didn't
know that,instead of putting out the fire, faggots could only make it burning
more vigorously. Isn't it equivalent to carrying faggots to put out a fire if
you agree to sue for peace at the cost of the land of the State of Wei?"

Though
Su Dai's argument was very convincing, the king accepted the suggestion of those
officials and gave away to the State of Qin a large area of the land of the
State of Wei. For the king of the State of Wei was cowardly and only cared for
peace at the moment.As might be expected,the Qin army assaulted the State of Wei
on a large scale in 225 B.C.,surrounding the capital city Daliang and flooding
it by digging open the dykes of the Huanghe River.The State of Wei was finally
destroyed by the State of Qin.This story appears in the Historical Records
Written by Sima Qian.

The set phrase"carrying faggots to put out a fire"is used
to mean adopting a wrong method to save a situation and ending up by making it
worse.

战国末期,秦国向魏国接连发动大规模的进攻,魏国无力抵抗,大片土地都被秦军占领了。到公元前273年,秦国又一次向魏国出兵,势头空前猛烈。


魏王把大臣们召来,愁眉苦脸地问大家有没有使秦国退兵的办法。大臣们由于经过多年的战乱,提起打仗就吓得哆嗦,谁也不敢谈“抵抗”二字。在这大兵压境的危急时刻,多数大臣都劝魏王,用黄河以北和太行山以南的大片土地为代价,向秦王求和。


谋士苏代听了这些话,很不以为然,忙上前对魏王说:“大王,他们是因为自己胆小怕死,才让您去卖国求和,根本不为国家着想。您想,把大片土地割让给秦国虽然暂时满足了秦王的野心,但秦国的欲望是无止境的,只要魏国的土地没割完,秦军就不会停止进攻我们。”


说到这里,苏代讲了一个故事:从前有一个人,他的房子起火了,别人劝他快用水去浇灭大火,但他不听,偏抱起一捆柴草去救火,是因为他不懂得柴草不但不能灭火反而能助长火势的道理。大王若同意拿着魏国土地去求和,不就等于抱着柴草救火吗?”


尽管苏代讲得头头是道,但是胆小的魏王只顾眼前的太平,还是依大臣们的意见把魏国大片土地割让给秦国。到公元225年,果然秦军又向魏国大举进攻,包围了国都大梁,掘开黄河大堤让洪水淹没了大梁城,魏国终于被秦国灭掉了。


故事出自《史记•魏世家》。成语“抱薪救火”比喻用错误的方法去消灭祸害,结果反而使祸害扩大。

2016-06-23

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