Iron and Silk

Salzman, Mark

Random House, 1986

p. 117

Chinese story all kids learn: “An old man’s horse runs away one day. His friends all say they are sorry to hear about the horse, but the old man says, ‘I’m not worried about it. You never know what happens.’ Sure enough, a few days later the horse returns, leading a whole herd of wild horses back with it. Everyone congratulated the old man on his good fortune, but the old man just says, ‘You never know what happens,’ and doesn’t make a big deal out of it. And sure enough, his only son becomes crippled in an accident while training one of the horses. Everyone says how sorry they are to hear the sad news, but the old man says, ‘You never know what happens.’ And not long afterward government troops pass through the village looking for healthy young men to recruit for a border campaign. Of course the old man’s son is passed over because of his injuries. This is the Chinese way of thinking. It includes the conviction that foreigners get terribly sentimental about little things.”