2nd Century BC: The Best Leaders Are Barely Noticed

Mawangdui_LaoTsu_Ms2

太上,下知有之;其次,親而譽之;其次,畏之;其次,侮之。信不足,焉有不信焉。悠兮,其貴言。功成事遂,百姓皆謂我自然。

The best leaders are barely noticed. The next best are admired and praised. Poor leaders use coercion and fear, and the worst are despised.

If leaders do not follow the Tao, how can the people?

The wisest leaders will even seem uncertain; their hesitation shows how carefully they consider each thought.

When their work is done, and their endeavors successful, the people celebrate and say “Yes! We did it ourselves!”

Tao Te Ching, 17

Image: Part of a Taoist manuscript, ink on silk, 2th century BC, Han Dynasty (source)

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