In the Warring States period, the monarchs of various countries were mercenary and attacked each other, which made people’s life very painful.
Once, sitting in the hall, king Qi Xuan saw a servant leading an ox through the corridor in front of the hall. King Qi Xuan asked his servant:
“Where are you going to take the cow?”
“Tell the king, I will take this sacrificial cow to slaughter, and then paint its blood on the clock.” the servant replied respectfully.
King Xuan of Qi listened, looked at the cow and said:
“Let it go! Look at it shaking with fear. I really can’t bear it. It’s like innocent people are going to be punished!”
“Then don’t paint the clock with animal blood?”
“How can this ceremony be abandoned? Just catch a sheep and kill it. It’s not the same to paint its blood on the clock!” said King Xuan of Qi.
Hearing this, Mencius came to advise King Xuan of Qi and said:
“King, your compassion is benevolence! But king, you only see the poor cattle, but you don’t see the poor sheep. If you can extend this kind of love for animals to the people, then the king can become the king of the world!”