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Old fables retold: The Tortoise and the Hare

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Zeng Ying is a writer from Sichuan whose commentary runs in many newspapers.

The following story ran on Zeng's Tianya blog last year, but he recently republished it on his Sina blog.

If a turtle was bureau chief, here's how the race between the tortoise and the hare would have gone

by Zeng Ying

When the head of the Running Section reached retirement age, there was a pressing need to select a replacement. Assistant Director Hare of the Running Section had ten thousand reasons to be that replacement in terms of talent, experience, and work skills. A.D. Hare had been assistant director for more than a decade, and was known within the bureau as an "old A.D." (老副科), which sounded enough like "gynaecology" (妇科) to make him fairly uncomfortable.

Bureau Chief Turtle's address to the mid-level cadres at the selection meeting put a strain on the beautiful dream that A.D. Hare was in the midst of. He said, "The selection of a new director of the Running Section must be conducted according to principles of justice, openness, and fairness to select the most qualified mid-level cadre out of the whole bureau." This is to say, apart from A.D. Hare of the Running Section, A.D. Tortoise of the Strolling Section would also be involved in the selection, since out of the entire bureau, they were the only two "gynaecology" cadres.

A.D. Hare's only comfort was that he was a long-time master of running — he had a doctorate in running, and in addition he was well-acquainted with the business, having no small level of fame within the running world. A.D. Tortoise, however, lacked these qualifications.

But things weren't quite as simple as he imagined. A.D. Tortoise was no slacker; in just three days' time he got himself a doctoral degree in running, and in the period set by the nominating committee, he fulfilled the basic requirements for competition.

Subsequently, a judges' committee was formed out of the most senior members of the bureau — Fish, Shrimp, Crab, and Loach — to assess the running skills of A.D.s Tortoise and Hare.

Before the evaluation, B.C. Turtle hosted a special small-group meeting, at which he spoke seriously and at length: I place in your worthy hands the power to decide the success or failure of the future development of our work in running. I ask all of you to be aware of your responsibility toward the country and your solidarity with the work unit, and to work hard at appraisal and evaluation. Do not let the fact that A.D. Tortoise is my nephew cause any prejudice or favoritism toward him. The truth should always be sought from facts, you know.

Everyone had to blink back tears at B.C. Turtle's forthrightness. Later, B.C. Turtle himself decided that more important than the evaluation was a comparison of practical skills. Conditions permitting, it would be best to organize an open competition to let everyone see for themselves who was the genuine article.

Not a bad idea, everyone agreed. So planning commenced at once. Propaganda organs like newspapers and television stations reported widely and positively on this creative innovation.

So as not to let down the expectations of the community, B.C. Turtle assumed responsibility for much of the work himself. Setting the date, selecting a venue, and attracting sponsors were all accomplished by his hand. Particularly in the case of venue selection: he dismissed public opinion, rejecting plans to locate the racecourse in the mountains, desert, and hills. Creatively, he set the racecourse on the sandy beach beside the ocean, and the racetime was to be in the morning.

Someone objected, saying that the racecourse might be in danger of being drowned by tidewater. Quite upset, B.C. Turtle criticized that individual, saying he had no idea of how to address problems from the perspective of development, his objections were mechanically-applied metaphysics, and he would never be successful as an official! That individual was shocked to the point that he nearly cut out his tongue as an apology.

The race took place on the sandy beach at the appointed time. The tide came in on schedule. A.D. Hare was afraid of the water, and requested that the race be postponed. B.C. Turtle said that this was a test of whether they had the spirit to go with the flow. Just as Hare was arguing, the gun sounded and Tortoise dropped into the water like an arrow and flew toward the finish line. Hare pulled himself together and hastened after him; however, he was swallowed by the water and was completely disoriented. By the time the rescue team on the shore arrived to save him, he had taken in so much water that he was fatter than a sumo wrestler.

In the final outcome, Tortoise did not disappoint, and he cruised to victory as the new head of the Running Section. Hare, since his fame was baseless and he was suspected of forging documents to swindle the public, led a sad and troubled life from then on. Though the doctors were able to pump the water out of his stomach, he frequently felt that it had not all been removed and from time to time would cough it up. This filled his life with bitterness and astringence....

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There are currently 3 Comments for Old fables retold: The Tortoise and the Hare.

Comments on Old fables retold: The Tortoise and the Hare

all i can say is this is China. things change according to the decision-making of the authority. we can only roll with them, otherwise we'll have a taste of our own medicine. and let me assure you, it is bitter and can make our lives miserable.

in chinese unit,every one guess the leader`s intention,very very few people dare to say the truth or to say from heart ,and they are really "handful" ,because they are not slaves, and the slaves are always persecuting real man.even the leader is a slave when he is with his leader.he has to refind balance by showing mastership to his underling.what a pity!still a slavery society.

This is very much like America's own "Politically Correct Fairy Tales" published some years back. No country is free from political correctness, it's just a matter of degree. The Chinese are under the thumbs of their political masters. Here in the U.S., the process of turning us into "Amerikans" is ongoing. Perhaps, one day, we'll find a cure for people that want to rule the world and we can all live in peace.

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