Zhòng rén shí chái huǒ yàn gāo
Translation: Only when all contribute their firewood can they build up a strong fire.
Meaning: When you work together you will get more done and have better results. Another way of saying “United and we can stand strong,” or “many hands make light work.”
Long ago, there was a King who had 20 sons. Each son had his own special talent, but they would never work together, and even ridiculed each other behind their backs. This worried the King, because he understood that the country’s enemies could use this weakness against them. When the King was very old, and felt he had not much longer to live, he had to come up with a way to make his sons work together, to avoid the kingdom falling apart. He called all his sons home, and asked them all to bring one arrow. When all the arrows lay before him on the ground, he asked his younger brother to pick one up and break it. The younger brother stretched out his arm, picked up an arrow, and snapped it in two. Then the King said “now pick up the remaining 19 all together, and try to break that.” The younger brother did as he was told; he picked up all the arrows, but even though he used all his strength, try as he might, he could not break the bundle of arrows.
The King turned to his sons and said: “You all understand very well what this means. One arrow is easily broken, but twenty together cannot be broken. The same goes for you: if you all stand united, and work together, you will be strong enough to defend the safety of the kingdom and defeat all enemies.” Finally his sons understood the Kings worries, and they promised him they would work together from then on. The King could die in peace, knowing his kingdom and his sons were safe.
Translated by Marjolijn Kaiser. For the full story in Chinese, click here.
|众||zhòng||public, masses (N)|
|人||rén||person, people (N)|
|拾||shí||to pick up (V)|