[FOUNTAIN]Skip the Rain Dance; Govern Well

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[FOUNTAIN]Skip the Rain Dance; Govern Well

Long ago before the peaceful reigns of King Yao and King Shun in ancient China, the god of thunder and the god of war engaged in a fierce battle to win the position of emperor of heaven. The legendary battle is said to have taken place in Hubei province, now about a two-hour drive north-west of Beijing.

The war god called on the spirits of wind and rain to preempt an attack by the thunder god.

Then, the thunder god urgently summoned his daughter, who had a burning fireball hotter than a furnace inside her body. As soon as she appeared on the battlefield, the storm stopped and the sun appeared, glaring in the sky.

The thunder god easily defeated the army of the war god, thanks to his daughter.

His daughter did not return to heaven after the battle, but remained on earth. The Chinese people called her the spirit of drought, because everything dried up wherever she went. Rain never visited the place where she was.

Therefore, Chinese mythology tells us that people started holding rituals to pray for her to leave so it could rain. In Greek mythology, people used to pray for rain by wetting an oak branch, the tree symbolic of Zeus, the god of thunder. In the Tangun mythology of ancient Korea, a rain god is also mentioned.

Praying for rain to bring life to the earth is universally mentioned in mythology. Because the king was thought to be the channel through which heaven governed the earth, he was directly related to rain. Thus, the ancient kings of Korea presided over the ritual for rain from the beginnings of our history.

Rituals for rain have been widely practiced by people throughout the world. Some have cursed and threatened the spirit of drought, while others have earnestly prayed for rain.

Lee Ik, a realist Confucian scholar of the Choson period, once said that acting virtuously would move the heaven to yield rain. He proposed finding jobs for the unemployed, releasing prisoners falsely accused, punishing the greedy and the sly and prohibiting drinking, singing and dancing by the village leaders. He suggested that the will of the people is the will of the heaven, so rain would come when the people were satisfied.

We have been in the grip of a spring drought.

The rivers are dry, fish are dying and the fields are wilting. It is difficult to witness such a disastrous scene. The frustrations of the residents in the areas suffering from drought are mounting.

Perhaps politicians should try a more benign form of governing to overcome this dry spell.

by Lee Kyeung-chul

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