The Best Rulers

Of the best rulers, the people only know that they exist; the next best they love and praise; the next they fear and the next they revile. When they do not command the people’s faith, some will lose faith in them, and then they resort to oaths! But of the best when their task is accomplished, their work done, the people all remark, “We have done it ourselves”.

That is the theory of government from Lao Tzu. There are other translations. The part I find most interesting is that the best rulers are those that do (or seem to do) nothing and let the people do it all themselves. We find echoes in American thought. Remember Thoreau "The government is best which governs least."

It is better to be unknown than loved when you are a ruler. I think both parties can find something of themselves in this saying and I would like to hear comments. One request: let's be positive. Instead of hearing how Democrats/Republicans don't meet the standards, let's only hear how they do. We can always imply by our silence and faint praise that the other side doesn't make the grade.

Or do you think this is a good maxim for leadership in the first place? Maybe everyone but me hates this idea.

And thanks to Reed in a post lower down for reminding me of this.


Posted by Jack at April 25, 2005 4:50 PM