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Peace Education

Case Study of Conflict Resolution: Lin Xiangru and Lian Po

 During the “Spring and Autumn Period,” approximately 2500 years ago, a man named Lin Xiangru rose to the top position as advisor to the king, through his dedication and intelligence. Then Lian Po, the country’s top general, took offense. He refused to recognize Lin’s position or submit to him. He sought every opportunity to offend the person he considered to be his rival.

When this was reported to Lin, however, he refused to use his power against the general and kept praising him to others. The position of king’s advisor and top general were on the same level of importance. Lin realized that if there was conflict at the top levels of the nation’s leadership, an enemy country could sense the nation’s weakness and invade it.

Eventually, Lin’s words of praise were reported to the general by a friend. When the general realized what kind of attitude Lin held regarding him, the general felt deeply ashamed and carried a bundle of thorns to Lin as a symbol of repentance. He removed his shirt, knelt in front of Lin, and handed him the bundle of thorns as an invitation to strike him.

Lin’s heart was moved by the general’s symbolic offering. The phrase “carrying thorns to ask for forgiveness” has become a traditional Chinese expression for deep repentance. Because of their common devotion to their country, the two men reconciled and became close friends in the service of their country.


From Causes and Resolution of Conflict, International Educational Foundation.


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