Gentlemen on Beam
Want to know the implied meaning of the idiom “gentleman on the beam”? You can find the answer here.
In China you can often hear people refer to a thief as a "liang shang jun zi", which literally means a ‘gentleman on a beam.' You might wonder why a thief is referred to as such. After listening to this story, you'll know why.
During the Han Dynasty, over one thousand years ago, there was an official named Chen Shi. He came from a poor family and had gone through many hardships when he was young. So when he finally won an official position, he worked very hard and showed great concern for people's sufferings. Chen Shi also lived a simple life and was a very honest official. Naturally, he was highly respected by the local people.
Natural disasters were frequent in those days, and life was hard. Some people became so poor that they began stealing things. When Chen Shi got home one day, he noticed that there was a thief hiding on the main beam of his house. He knew the rascal was waiting for a chance to steal things. But he didn't call his men to arrest him. Instead, he called in his sons and said to them: “As men, you should always encourage yourselves to do good deeds. Only in this way can you have a promising future. Some people are not strict with themselves, and often develop bad habits. But they are not bad in nature. If they realize their mistakes and reform, they still can become good people. However, if they indulge themselves in doing evil, they will eventually become evil. Look at the gentleman on the beam: if he knows he is doing wrong he can still become a decent man.”
Hearing Chen Shi's words, the thief on the beam was ashamed of himself. He jumped down and knelt before Chen Shi, waiting for his punishment. Chen Shi said to the thief: “Remember what I said just now, and give up stealing. You are so young, and can make a living with your own hands.” Chen Shi even gave some cloth to the thief and sent his man to see him home.
The story soon spread. People praised Chen Shi for having saved a young man's soul. Many others who had done bad things turned a new leaf and started a new life.