- The donkey that grinds in the system and the cannon fodder that dies on the battlefield are a metaphor, used to describe some people who sell themselves for some kind of benefit or purpose, or some people who disregard their own lives to complete a task.
- The donkey that grinds in the system refers to those who work in the system (such as government agencies, state-owned enterprises, public institutions, etc.). They enjoy stable income and benefits, but they have no freedom and creativity. They can only do things according to the arrangements and requirements of their superiors, just like a donkey that is harnessed to a millstone and grinds. These people may be afraid to resist or change because they fear losing their status and security in the system, or they may sell their conscience and principles for the power and interests in the system.
- The cannon fodder that dies on the battlefield refers to those soldiers who are sent to perform dangerous tasks in war. They have ideals and beliefs of defending the country and the nation, but they face the risk of sacrificing their lives at any time, just like a shell that is fired. These people may be willing to pay the price of life for their loyalty and obedience, or they may be deceived or used as tools for others to achieve their goals.
- This metaphor may originate from the idiom “kill the donkey after unloading the millstone”. “Kill the donkey after unloading the millstone” means to kill the donkey that grinds after finishing grinding, implying to kick away someone who has worked hard for oneself. This idiom reflects a mentality of using others without gratitude; while “the donkey that grinds in the system” and “the cannon fodder that dies on the battlefield” reflect a mentality of being used without knowing or unwilling to resist.