Human actions are what define the world and how other people act. The cause and effect of actions revolve mostly around how people treat each other. Lao-Tzu largely focuses on how a leader treats his people in “Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching”. He encourages those in power to not force anything in their actions but to just go with the flow of what is occurring around them. When this is done and when the leader actively works for peace, avoids war, and follows the Tao, the country is at its greatest. Lao –Tzu advises that the people should be left to themselves and to lead so subtly that the people do not realize the leader is governing them.
According Lao-Tzu, this is when the people are the most content, and the country is most peaceful. Peace is the most important to Lao-Tzu, but one’s passions are what are most important to Friedrich Nietzsche. He explains, in “Morality as Anti-Nature”, how passions affect people. How they are handled ultimately affects how that passion is regarded. Everyone handles their passions differently. Those, who cannot handle their passions, discourage everyone else from accepting those passions. Nietzsche encourages everyone to understand and accept their passions and to not let anyone portray them as immoral or bad as that keeps one from reality.
People should be able to do as they please without their actions and desires turned into something “bad”. Las- Tzu also urges leaders to let people do as they please and to let them govern themselves. A leader should not force himself into others’ lives, should try his best to keep peace and avoid war, and should not be controlling. If this is done, then the world is content. How great the world is, or at least a country, depends on how controlling and peaceful the leader is and how he treats his people. If the ruler allows the world to run as it is and allows people to govern themselves, a ruler is considered to be great.
Lao-Tzu instructs those in power to “govern with tolerance”, and then people will be “comfortable and honest. ” If he rules “with repression”, then people will be “depressed and crafty” (Lao-Tzu 211). Repression of the people leads to unhappiness, unrest, and possible rebellion. Humans tend to desire freedom and what they deem as best for themselves. If you take away freedom and are a harsh ruler, the people will not have the happiness that the ruler should strive to give to them.
The ruler could also lose his power, because the people may try to ake it from him and give it to someone who promises them freedom and what they want. The leader does not want war; he wants to keep peace and set it as the most important thing to him. Without peace, the ruler cannot “be content” when it “has been shattered” (209). There is nothing great in war. Violence should be avoided at all costs as it only leads to more violence. Once peace has been lost, it is hard to gain back. People should not give into violence; but once they have, they continue until the cycle is broken. Rulers need to keep peace, to let the people govern themselves, and to not control.
The ruler should not control anything as it tips the world out of balance. Control can lead to things going wrong or, at least, seemingly wrong. A ruler should recognize that the “universe is forever out of control”, and that by trying to “dominate it”, he is going “against the current of the Tao” (208). Trying to control something that is out of control increases the chaos of the universe. It never works to try to control everything. It is best to understand that it cannot be controlled, and use that understanding to benefit what you need to do. Control of people, control of the universe, can lead to the loss of peace.
When a ruler tries to control, he is disrupting the peace of that which is around him. I believe that Lao-Tzu is right about peace and control. People want freedom; so if they believe they have it, they will be content. When peace dissolves into violence and war, more problems are created, and the consequences are greater than the advantages. Passions are a major part of who someone is, but they are made into something immoral due to the lack of control some have over their passions. Everything that is deemed “bad” or “immoral” by Christianity created an excuse to punish people for passions with which they were born.
Nietzsche describes how passion has been “[attacked] on the roots” and declares that this attack is “an attack on the roots of life” (Nietzsche 348). Everyone is born with passions, desires that are given to us by nature. These passions determine who we are, and by attacking the passions, life itself is attacked. Despite being born with the desires, some deemed the desires wrong largely due to their own inability to control their passions. Passions were made into something bad and done through “free will” as it allowed everything to “be considered as lying within the consciousness” (355).
If it is voluntary, then one can be held accountable for what he did wrong. Acts that are involuntary, that are done through the unconscious, cannot be held against someone. Those who fear passions find it much easier to blame, to turn them into something bad, and to blame the consciousness of those who are strong, rather than to recognize their weakness. These people have turned to God and “morality” to disguise their lack of control and weakness towards their desires. Much of what makes passions bad is what Christianity has determined to be bad. Those who led and fed the religion were not able to handle their own passions.
Passion, which is life, ultimately “comes to an end” when religion allows “the kingdom of God’ to begin” (350). When morality and religion enter life, life itself ends, because passion cannot be realized. The integral part of what makes one up is hidden, because weakness disguises it. Religion is what was used to discourage those who are strong and to empower those who are weak. I do think Nietzsche has some valid points. Some “desires” that are considered to be immoral do seem like they are not a part of the conscious mind. People like to appear strong, and they will oppose anything that shows that they are anything but.
While both Lao-Tzu and Nietzsche agree that people should be able to govern themselves, they do not agree how this should be done. Peace and passions are important to both men, but their beliefs about how they should be approached are very different. Lao-Tzu advises leaders to help “people lose…everything they desire” (Lao-Tzu 206). For a leader to rule effectively, he should help them lose what is holding them back, their desires. People need to be happy and govern themselves, but they need to not be too venerated and passionate. The fewer desires they have, the less unhappiness they have in their life.
Nietzsche, however, believes that “destroying the passions and desires” is just an “acute form of stupidity” (Nietzsche 347). Passions are some of what defines person; so by destroying it, you are essentially destroying them. People are happiest when they can be themselves without the shunning and shame that comes along with it. Desires are not bad, because they are a part of who someone is, who they should be. The desire for peace, according to Nietzsche, is very likely to not be fulfilled. He explains that “one remains young” only if his “soul does not stretch itself and desire peace” (Nietzsche 349).
Humans are restless, and they are unlikely to ever reach a place of peace. If one continues hostility, he can fulfill his desires and expand his intelligence. Peace is very difficult to achieve, so one should not dwell on what may not be the best use of his energy. Lao-Tzu disagrees with Nietzsche; for a leader, “peace is his highest value” (Lao-Tzu 209). No one should die at the hands of the leader, and peace is what allows him to avoid the accusation of death on his head. Men should not hold onto their desires, but the one desire they should have is peace. A leader should not be happy until he has obtained peace in his reign.
Without peace, the world would dissolve into more chaos than that which already exists. I think that passions should be felt and not destroyed. They often are what allow people to be who they are and express how they feel. Peace would be great, but it is unfortunately difficult to achieve. It should, however, always be pursued as the world would be even more chaotic without the hope for peace. Peace should be the most important thing to a leader. A leader must also try to not to control everything as it only leads to more disorder. He should allow people to govern themselves.
The immorality that masks passions is only others’ inability to understand and control their own passions. There is a need for people to govern themselves, to understand their passions, and to have peace in the world. While passions may still be seen as immoral, some of the lines between moral and immoral have become blurred in recent times, because immoral acts are more common and less “scandalous”. Peace, passions, and freedom all seem like they would be great to attain; however, they may not necessarily be attainable. Those who benefit from morals, violence, and power do not let Lao-Tzu’s and Nietzsche’s beliefs become realities.