Historical Empathy Project: The Qin Dynasty

The Qin Dynasty; what a time it was for the great country of China. For the first time in my life I had someone to call emperor. Things were different from the previous fifteen or so years. New structures came up and most of all, the Great Wall was constructed, marking a huge land mark in the country. There were songs and dances in the streets and homesteads as everyone was happy. Neighbors shared foodstuff and drinks in celebration. This was clearly the don of a new era. The people seemed to live in unity and happiness because this was the only way we could move our country forward. Most of all, a new law was introduced to govern our well being (Feizi 2). I thought to myself, where could we be if it were not for this good man? It is because of him that everyone had a smile on his face and neighbors were telling jokes.

However, in the middist of all the joy and happiness, there were some complaints from some quarters. As a true patriot, I was also disappointed in some way. I could not believe that books were being burned and yet they could have help to narrate our history to the future leaders. No doubt the emperor was considered to be a dictator. A good leader should be able to unite all the citizens and enrich the country’s history. There is no best way to document our history than putting it in writing. Clearly, these are characteristics of an oppressive leader. Unfortunately, all the respect I had for him was flashed down the drain. But how could this be and yet he seemed so nice in the beginning? Only he can answer this question. 

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I could not understand how he could change from good to bad in a matter of days. I saw him growing up and I could proudly say I played a big role in making him the emperor. If I look at his life history, I could never have expected him to be this bad. This is a man who was born way back in 259 as the youngest son of the prince. Being the supposed youngest kid, he was treated with a lot of respect and honor because he would inherit the family’s fortune and continue with the legacy (Hanse, Curtis, and Curtis 3). During this time, different states were fighting one another and there was tension all over. Nonetheless, the dynasty was growing stronger as the smaller states joined to form one big state. Definitely, it grew in power and population as well. As they say, two is better than one and for sure it was. However, this meant that there were more needs to be taken care off. More mouths to feed, more people demanding for healthcare and even more children in need of education (Sullivan 22).

I was privileged to be part of the inner circle of the Qin Dynasty. This meant that I was preview to some of the critical decisions that were made. In the event that a king died, it was the responsibility of one of the sons to take up the crowd regardless of the age. In fact, when the King came into power, he was a very young boy and it was my responsibility to take him through the basics of leadership (Frazee 21). Nonetheless, it was not easy for me and other members to run the Dynasty because of the rivalry that existed. I fought so hard to ensure that as young as he was, he was respected by every person, including the chief ministers and the Prime Minister. However, I had no doubt that he would become a respectable man because of his strength and courage. Sometimes leaders have to make critical decisions for the sake of the community and this calls for courage even in the most difficult times.

With my wisdom, I felt that the youngest son, Zinch was better placed to take up the position of emperor. I knew that this would also give me an opportunity to influence important decisions in future. I convinced one of childless concubine to adopt the child because it would make her the Queen of the land. With our close relations, I could use her to pull strings to my direction (Department of Asian Art 21). As most men would do, when Zinch finally became the successor, he felt indebted to me and promised to share a piece of the state with me. At his point, I was the happiest man on earth. I was sure of receiving many favors because of my contribution.

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The situation got even better when the King asked for my permission to marry one of my concubines. I knew this was a chance of a lifetime, because I could use to strengthen our relationship. Without much thought, I agreed to his request. One thing he didn’t know that the concubine was already carrying my child in her womb. When the child was born, Zinch believed that it was his child when it was not. Therefore, the child who became the first emperor was not in fact the King’ son but my son. How clever was that? I was so happy that my son lived a happy life as a marquis, earning 100,000 houses of revenue (Sullivan 65).

After the death of King Zichu, I took back my concubine as a clandestine. We had a good affair for a while as the young king was maturing. Unfortunately, she started spreading rumors about our affair and I had to do something to avoid being exposed. With my quick thinking, I looked for a man who could satisfy her and ensured that she fell in love with him. This man was Lao Ai. Therefore, I made sure that the child was well groomed to become the best emperor. Nonetheless, I would also made sure that he understood that I was his biological father regardless of the consequences. It is very unfair for a child to grow up without knowing the real father. Although I had committed the mistake already, I hoped that my son would understand and agree to the fact that I was his father. However, I knew that this was not going to be an easy task but I was committed to it. Therefore, I was patient until the child matured and I told him the truth (Li 2).

However, the biggest threat I witnessed was in 239 BC when the Kings younger brother appalled and ended up being killed. Members of the town also revolted and they were killed too. The town governments of this period depended on how much power one could accrue (Sun 12). According to the traditions at the time, power was measured in terms of the number of victories in war. Therefore, the amount of power was measured by the number of fights and cities one could capture by winning fights. Thus, the most powerful government was that with the largest territory.

The government operated with the philosophy of legalism, which is the exactly opposite to Confucianism which was the foundation China. Rather than focusing on righteous and virtuous qualities, legalism was all about putting the interests of the state before the needs of the people (Feizi 2). Although it is a good idea to be patriotic, human life is precious and it should be protected first before anything else. Additionally, it is good to uphold morality and all the basic needs of human life. Unfortunately, at the time, human life was important only when serving the state. This gave an impression that weak people contributed to a stronger state while stronger people meant that the state was poor.

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Another interesting aspect about legalism is the argument about welfare state. Most arguments about good governments talk about giving land to the poor to enable them have a better livelihood. However, if men start out on the same level and some of them grow richer while others become poor, it either means that some were working harder than others or it is because of extravagant living. Although the legalism theory seemed to be working in the beginning, things were different after the death of the first emperor (Asiapac Editorial 67). However, I could not tell the second emperor about various issues that occurred in the empire because of the fear of high taxation. Moreover, the emperor was not close to the ministers and the people in general.

All in all, the Qin Dynasty had its ups and downs. The greatest achievement was bringing different states together. On the other hand, one of the major downfalls was when the people got fed up with the emperor’s cruelty leading to the disintegration of the Qin police (Veeck 72). The irony was that some of my fellow principle contributors of the Dynasty were eventually executed under the same legalist system we devised. These are people who had shaped the course of the empire in various ways. Since the collapse of the Qin Dynasty, there have been cases of oppression and tyranny.

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