Sing a Different Tune
Do you always treat a person in the same way, no matter he is poor or rich? The family of a famous philosopher of thousands of years ago certainly didn't. They treat the philospher in different ways according to his achievements.
Today's idiom reads “Qian Ju Hou Gong” literally meaning “to be supercilious first, and then deferential.” And here is the story behind it.
Su Qin was a famous philosopher living in the Warring States Period, when the country was divided into several kingdoms. But before his viewpoints became widely accepted and his name well known, he had but a few ragged old clothes, and was virtually penniless. Everybody, including his family members, looked down upon him. His sister-in-law especially disliked Su Qin, deriding the young man for being a loafer and predicting he would amount to nothing.
Su Qin was angry about what his relatives thought about him, but not discouraged: He concentrated on studying and developing his own teachings. Then he went to different kingdoms to publicize his ideas. At last, he persuaded some kingdoms, including that of the Yan, to unite and fight against the most powerful state, the State of Qin. Of course, Su Qin got a big promotion. And he was given piles of gold and beautiful silk.
One day, the king of Yan sent Su Qin to negotiate with the ruler of another country. To get to this country, Su Qin had to pass by his home. Hearing that Su Qin was coming, his parents ran a long way to receive him. They invited him back home for a banquet. To show obedience and respect, his wife and brother didn't even dare to make eye contact with Su Qin. And his sister-in-law at last kneeled down to apologize for how she had treated him in the past.
Su Qin asked his sister-in-law, “What on earth made you be so supercilious at first, but so deferential now?” The woman kept kowtowing out of great shame and replied, “It's because you're a rich man who has great power.” Sun Qin sighed, “I'm the same person I've always been. But when I was poor, even my parents treated me badly. But now, when I have power and money, all the people around me have changed their attitudes. It's so hard to find a person who treats others equally, no matter they are rich or poor.”
This story about how Su Qin's relatives changed their attitudes when he was rich inspired this idiom: “Qian Ju Hou Gong.” Literally it means: “first supercilious, afterwards deferential.” We use the idiom nowadays to describe those who radically change their opinion about a person or thing.