Chinese Idiom Stories

To Contradict Oneself

In ancient times there lived a weapons manufacturer who took some of the spears and shields he had made out into the street to sell. He held up a spear, and said to the crowed surrounding him, "My spears are the sharpest in all the world. There is nothing they cannot pierce." He handed a spear to the people so they could have a closer look, and then held up a shield, saying, "Look! These shields of mine are made from the finest leather. They are the strongest shields in all the world; there is nothing that can pierce them." And he handed a shield to the people for them to observe.

Just then an old man raised his voice and asked, "And if one were to use one of your spears to try to pierce one of your shields - what would happen then?"

At this question, the weapons manufacturer was completely at a loss for words, he did not know what to say.

The Chinese word for "contradiction" - "mau-dun" - literally means "spear-shield".




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