Violence sweeps through the county of Hu. In the small village of Chu Jen, people gather in their small temple to sit and pray. A large, drunken man barrels into the sanctuary. He’s yelling into people’s faces. He spits at a women. He slaps her child. No one moves. No one breathes. Everyone hopes he will stop, and go away.
A powerful man, a warrior, stands up, ready to take this man down and throw him out. Li Tan, an old man, quietly walks between them and says, “Please, let me talk to this fellow.” The old man looks into the drunken man’s eyes. The man is ashamed to look at Li Tan, but Li Tan keeps looking and waiting. When the man catches sight of the old man’s loving eyes, he becomes still, and sad.
The old man asks him if he wouldn’t mind sitting down next to him. The soldier also sits close to Li Tan. Li Tan faces the sad man, takes the big man’s quivering hand, holds it softly between his deeply creased, warm palms and says, “Son, tell me what is wrong. What happened?”
The man begins crying. Then sobbing. While he was at work, soldiers came into his home. They killed his wife, his son, and his infant daughter. They set fire to his house. The old man puts his arms around the man sobbing. They weep as one person, weeping.
The soldier stands up. He looks down at the two men. His big chest sinks. He bows slowly to Li Tan. Lowering onto his hands and knees, his forehead against the wooden floor, he bows to the father who has just lost his family.
The soldier joins the other people from his village and begins to pray.