Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs;
the sage is ruthless, and treats the people as straw dogs.
D.C. Lau’s translation of Tao Te Ching (Penguin Classics edition) explains in a footnote that “straw dogs were treated with the greatest deference before they were used as an offering, only to be discarded and trampled upon as soon as they had served their purpose.”
Any Sinologists out there know of other classic and/or interesting passages of Chinese literature that use this phrase? And what is the phrase in Chinese? (And, for extra credit, was the original Chinese phrase used as the title of the Peckinpah movie in Hong Kong or Taiwan—I assume it wasn’t shown in mainland China—or was a new title invented to avoid whatever distractions the original phrase might involve?)