When you help someone up a hill, you get that much closer to the top yourself. -Anonymous
Question #45228 posted on 05/24/2008 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I heard someone on the radio* say that throughout China's history, the end of a certain ruler's reign was marked by large disasters. They suggested that these natural disasters were taken as a sign to the people that heaven was no longer approving of those leaders they had in place. They even went so far to say that this is playing a role in the current Chinese government's response to the recent earthquake.

Is (Has it been) this a common guiding principle for the people's support of their government?

- Elliot

*It was probably on some NPR program.

A: Dear Elliot,

The story was on Morning Edition, and while I didn't catch the original piece, I did hear follow-up letters from a couple of listeners who took issue with that characterization. They said that such beliefs or superstitions were uncommon among adults under 40, and not universal in adults over 40, either. They also pointed out that some Americans saw evidence of "God's wrath" in the September 11 attacks.

So it sounds like some people in China have such beliefs, but it's not a universal mindset, and it's not an attitude which is limited to that culture, either.

- Katya
A: Dear Elliot,

The name of the belief you're referring to is the Mandate of Heaven. It is a traditional Chinese belief that began in the Zhou Dynasty and continued through the Emperors of China. However, judging from Katya's answer, it isn't a belief held by the majority of the people anymore.

—Laser Jock