Don’t do any evil. Do only meritorious acts. Do only the things that benefit people. You should work only for the people’s welfare, not for your own.
“When the Great Way prevailed, every person was a part of public society, and the public society belonged to everyone. People not only loved their own parents and children, but loved the parents and children of others as well.” If you can follow this chapter on The Explication of Great Unity through the Functioning of Propriety, then you will be able to govern the nation well.
To want nothing at all is the best─that’s to truly serve the people. Don’t use money to get elected. I am looking for a friend who understands me, one who can govern the country without taking money. Such a person can be a pure official. He does not hoard money and loves the people as if they were his children. That’s the only way the country can become strong. If a person has even a vestige of selfishness, he is not qualified to govern the country. I say this whether or not you believe it. I say it whether or not you like to listen. I don’t care if you are happy or not.
One with virtue can rule the world. One without virtue will lose his power. If you study the leaders of ancient China, be they emperors or other rulers, you will see they all had great tolerance. Their capacity for benevolence was much greater than that of ordinary people. Why was the Zhenguan reign period of the Tang Dynasty so illustrious? It was because Emperor Taizong was able to use his enemy Wei Zhen, to follow his advice faithfully without the slightest trace of doubt. That’s why the Zhenguan reign was so successful.
There is a saying: “If the country is about to prosper, there will be auspicious omens. If the country is about to perish, there will be evil portents. The oracles will manifest signs, and the people’s actions will be affected. Thus, calamities and blessings can be known in advance. Good and evil can also be known in advance.” King Tang of the Shang Dynasty appealed to the Lord on High, saying
“I, this little boy, Tang Lyu, offer up a black cow and address the Supreme Lord. If I have offenses, do not punish the people. If the people have offenses, it is because I have not taught them well, and you should punish me for their offenses. I alone should take the blame.” The renowned sage-kings of ancient times courageously reformed themselves, confessed their mistakes, and accepted criticism with grace. They are truly good models and leaders.
Those who are above should place their trust in and love those below them as they love themselves. They should enable the people to dwell in peace and find satisfaction in their work. If the people compete with and rob one another, it is not a sign of prosperity. When Zhou Enlai was still around, doors didn’t have to be locked at night and things lost on the road were not picked up by others. Now, even such a small place as Taiwan cannot be governed well. All the people are going wild and using every possible means to make money. This is not an auspicious sign. Taiwan’s situation resembles that of the Southern Song dynasty when it was confined to the small area of Ling-an and everyone was fighting for fame and benefit. And a [loyal commander] like Yue Wumu was killed.
“If the nation has worthy and good people, it will surely prosper.” It is not right for loyal ministers and righteous heroes to be killed. In governing a nation, we must remember that from ancient times till now, whenever there was peace and order, whenever the dynasty’s rulers loved the people as they loved themselves, that period was certain to be prosperous. If people scheme and plot against each other, they gain things by unwholesome means.
“If you make tofu and set it by the marsh, it was made with water and will be washed away by water.” For example, the Communist Party took over the country by force. Since they used crooked means, there is sure to be conflict in the Party later on.
“A person must insult himself before other people will insult him. If you are not healthy, people will certainly insult you.” The best method is not to fight, not to be greedy, not to seek, not to be selfish, not be pursue personal advantage, and not to lie. However, stupid people dare not use it.
One must be public-spirited and unselfish. One should not be greedy for bribes, nor should one take bribes. One must be intelligent, upright, and straightforward in serving the people.
For the world and every nation to be well off, the governments must love the people and protect the people. They must use reason to deal with problems, not forceful or oppressive measures. They must use reason to communicate with and understand one another. They shouldn’t be completely separated and unable to conform to one another. If a government didn’t have any people to govern, then there would be no need for it.
To love one’s country doesn’t mean to say,
“I love my country, so I want to expand the national boundaries and take over the whole world.” With this attitude, you are nothing but a traitor. Consider what would happen if every country wanted to expand its territory and swallow up the other countries. For example, when the Japanese invaded China, they suffered the disaster of the atomic bomb and surrendered unconditionally. They had made a serious mistake. None of us recognize this kind of mistake, however, and so everyone still wants to resolve problems with brute force and military power. This is a great mistake. If we all truly love the country, truly love our own families, and truly cherish the lives and property of the people of our country, then we ought to put emphasis on education.
The genuine way to govern the country is to educate children so that they know how to be good people and how to love themselves, their country, their families, and all the people in the world. It is not to use secret plots to oppress other people, because people will refuse to submit. Therefore, in the present time, everyone should quickly awaken from their sleep. Don’t think that you can fool people and govern them with policies that cheat them and treat them as idiots. This is wrong. It’s a serious mistake.
There is a saying,
“If you cause people to submit by force, it is not a true submission from the heart, but only because they have not the strength to resist.” If you oppress people with violent measures, they will not truly accord with you. You have to treat people with humaneness and righteousness.
“If you cause people to submit by virtue, they will joyfully and sincerely submit.” If you are truly good to people, they will not disobey you. If you say you are good to people, but the facts prove otherwise, then the people will never respect you.
“The virtue of a superior person is like the wind. The virtue of petty people is like the grass. When the wind blows, the grass bends.” If you truly treat the people well, none of them will oppose you. If you do not treat them well, if you are false, then you won’t be able to keep them down. People are bound to oppose you.