Is song Xianggong the embodiment of idealist pedantry and aristocratic temperament?

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Song and Chu fought in Hongshui. On the eve of the war, Gongsun Gu persuaded songxianggong that the goal of Chu was to save Zheng. Now that the goal has been achieved, there is no reason to fight with us. We are not as powerful as the state of Chu. Let’s just make peace. However, Duke Xiang of Song said that although the state of Chu was strong, it lacked benevolence and righteousness. How could their cruel people compare with our benevolent and righteous teachers? After that, he ordered to embroider a big flag and write the word “benevolence and righteousness”. The next day, he would fight against the state of Chu with this big flag and use benevolence and righteousness to resist the swords and guns of the state of Chu. The next day, the two sides officially started war. The Chu Army wanted to cross the river to fight the song army. At this time, gongsungu offered his advice again, saying that the Chu army was in a hurry when crossing the river. We will take the opportunity to kill it at this time, and we will surely win a great victory. Songxianggong said that it was too insidious to do so. What kind of teacher is it? Don’t listen to advice. After the Chu army crossed the river, they lined up for a long time. Gongsun Gu said that they were unprepared when they lined up. It was a good time for us to attack! Songxianggong, however, refused the proposal under the pretext that a benevolent and righteous teacher would not do such a thing. As a result, the Chu army formed an array and rushed over. The song army was weak and did not grasp the opportunity to fight. It was utterly defeated. Duke Xiang of song was also wounded by an arrow in his thigh. The flag of “benevolence and righteousness” was lost somewhere. However, songxianggong did not regret it. After the war, he also said that a benevolent and righteous teacher must subdue others with virtue and never take advantage of others’ danger. A gentleman should not capture an old enemy, but also treat them well.

In fact, the benevolence and righteousness mentioned by Duke Xiang of song still belonged to the mainstream values at that time. In military terms, it means that wars should be fought in a certain form, just as courts today must follow certain procedures. If you violate this form, you will also violate the traditional ethics, which is unacceptable. Songxianggong did not attack the Chu troops who crossed the river and lined up, because he took this into consideration. Because his dream was to seek hegemony, if his hegemony was to be recognized by the emperor of Zhou and the princes, he could not violate this etiquette. In fact, the Chu army, the enemy of Duke Xiang of song, also explained the popularity of this kind of war etiquette at that time from another angle. The Chu army was weak when crossing the river and forming an array in front of the enemy. If it was attacked, it would be a disaster. Didn’t the Chu army understand this? It must be clear. Why do you do this when you understand? It only shows that Chu Jun believed that songxianggong would never call at this time. This kind of etiquette and rules, to put it bluntly, is still a legacy of aristocracy. In ancient times, taking part in war was not only an obligation, but also a right, because only “our own” had the right to take up arms and defend our clan or country. So it was an honor for the nobles to join the war. Since it’s a matter of honor, we can’t make it too inferior and despicable. Therefore, all kinds of intrigues and tricks naturally disdain it. Instead, they embody the honor and dignity of soldiers everywhere.

In a word, songxianggong is indeed a pedantic man, but his pedantry is not so ridiculous, but somewhat respectable. This pedantry is actually a reflection of aristocratic temperament. In an age of moral decay, songxianggong, like Confucius, is a typical idealist, like Sisyphus who constantly pushes boulders up the mountain, or Don Quixote who challenges the windmill with a spear. He knows what he can’t do, and is willing to give up secular success and even his own life for the sake of morality, honor and dignity. These are worthy of our respect, if not our imitation.

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