Pursue A Better Career
Find out how a famous Chinese man pursued his career some two millennia ago.
Now let's learn a new phrase meaning “to give up a civilian pursuit to join the army.” The idiom reads “tou bi cong rong.” Its literal meaning is “to throw aside the writing brush and join the army.” Let's hear the story behind the idiom.
In the Eastern Han Dynasty some two millennia ago, Ban Chao was son of a famous historian and scholar. His elder brother was also a distinguished historian. Though good at debating and having read a lot of books, Ban Chao didn't mind doing manual labor, and didn't care much about his appearance.
Later, Ban Chao's elder brother was appointed an official in the capital. Ban Chao, who was 30 at the time, went to the capital with his brother and mother. Because Ban Chao's family was poor, to make money he had to copy books for the government.
After a while, Ban Chao was fed up with copying characters every day. He felt he wouldn't accomplish anything in this job. One day, while copying a book, he suddenly threw away his brush and sighed, “Though a man doesn't have any great talent and bold vision, he should at least go to the Western Regions to make achievements. How can he always put his head among brushes and inkstone?”
His colleagues all thought he was ridiculous. Ban Chao replied, “You are all mediocre. How can you understand a hero's pursuit?”
In Ban Chao's time, wars between the Eastern Han Dynasty and states in the Western Regions on the Silk Road were frequent.
So Ban Chao joined the army. He was very brave in battle and was soon promoted.
Later, the emperor sent him as an envoy to the Western Regions. With his courage and quick mind, Ban Chao successfully fulfilled all his missions, and did much to promote communication between the Eastern Han Dynasty and states in the Western Regions.
From Ban Chao's example, people drew the idiom “to throw aside the writing brush and join the army.” The idiom reads “tou bi cong rong”.