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What is the meaning and function of 使 in the following?

大决所犯,伤人必多,吾不克救也;不如小决使道,不如吾闻而药之也。

道 means 導, meaning "to lead" or "to guide," but how does it combine with 使, meaning "to cause"?

  • What's the full article. – Voyager Mar 12 at 17:03
  • 郑人游于乡校,以论执政.然明谓子产曰:“毁乡校,何如?”子产曰;“何为?夫人朝夕退而游焉,以议执政之善否.其所善者,吾则行之;其所恶者,吾则改之,是吾师也,若之何毁 之?我闻忠善以损怨,不闻作威以防怨.岂不遽止?然犹防川: 大决所犯,伤人必多,吾不克救也;不如小决使道,不如吾闻而 药之也.”然明曰:“蔑也,今而后知吾子之信可事也.小人实 不才.若果行此,其郑国实赖之,岂唯二三臣?” – Apollyon Mar 12 at 17:05
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the origin is 左傳 襄公三十一年:

鄭人游于鄉校,以論執政,然明謂子產曰,毀鄉校何如,子產曰,何為,夫人朝夕退而游焉,以議執政之善否,其所善者,吾則行之,其所惡者,吾則改之,是吾師也,若之何毀之,我聞忠善以損怨,不聞作威以防怨,豈不遽止,然猶防川,大決所犯,傷人必多,吾不克救也,不如小決,使道不如,吾聞而藥之也,然明曰,蔑也今而後知吾子之信可事也,小人實不才,若果行此,其鄭國實賴之,豈唯二三臣,仲尼聞是語也,曰,以是觀之,人謂子產不仁,吾不信也。

the punctuation of the above text is, imo, doubtful :(

anyway, the metaphor is:

people's animosity (民怨) is like water flow

a ruler can built a dam to store water, and stop the flow. but, over times, water would overflow, destroy the dam.

so, 子產's method to handle people's animosity is: don't stop it, let small amount of water flow daily; in which no water would collected large enough to destroy the dam.

大決所犯.傷人必多.吾不克救也.不如小決使道.不如吾聞而藥之也

dam burst (大決) . . .

it would be better to (不如) [let] small amount of (小) [water] flow (決) [pass the dam], as (使) dredge (道 --> 疏導).

it would be better to (不如) [let] me (吾) hear (聞) [people's critic (以論執政) at the school (于鄉校)], and (而) [using such critics] as medicine (藥) to cure the governing (之).

depends on the style of writing, one might interpret "使" differently.

have fun :)

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