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Lao-Tzu: The Moderation of Ruling

Ruling a country effectively is executed through a variety of methods. Lao-Tzu, a follower of Taoism, expresses his belief on the most efficient way to govern. “The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be. The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be. The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be” (25). This quote from Lao-Tzu can be interpreted many different ways. The author discusses what he feels the role of a leader should be, the restrictions and the privileges that should be given to the people.

There are various views on this particular passage even among Americans. Lao-Tzu feels that taking action in order to make people feel safer and ensure their well being will actually be detrimental; although I agree with Lao-Tzu’s tactics, most Americans hold differentiating views. The more restrictions you place on a people, the less moral the people will be. Americans encounter this on a daily basis. American society was founded upon and is enraptured by rebellion. The early American colonists revolted against the English government.

The more laws and restrictions the King would place on them the more they would rebel and fight. When the American people feel oppressed by any law or prohibition set forth by the government the people will challenge it in an effort to change it. America is one of the only countries where its people actually believe they can make a difference and change what they feel is not right. Other countries around the world have been too oppressed to have enough hope for the future. Protests and demonstrations occur daily in the United States.

The majority of crime committed against the government or any official organization by the people is out of spite or revolt for the prohibitions that are placed upon them. Therefore, Lao-Tzu’s ideal is illustrated through the actions of the early American colonists. Having a greater amount of weapons will cause the people to feel less safe. If you live in a neighborhood where you do not have to lock your doors at night you will feel safer than if you lived in a neighborhood where every night you have to set the alarm on your house.

On an international level, the more weapons a country has the more people will live in fear. They will feel that they are in a great amount of danger if the need to be protected with weapons is so significant. This will also cause other countries to believe they are in danger, as if they were about to be attacked. This year the storing of biological weapons by Iraqi officials alerted America and the United Nations. The Iraqi people then felt unsafe as well as the rest of the world, especially the American people as the world was questioning Iraq’s motives.

Why would Iraq store such significant amounts of detrimental biological weapons if they did not have any intent to use them? Lao-Tzu’s theory is found to be factual through the movements of Iraq to protect its people. The more you give to people, the less independent they will become. When people are regularly provided with any service the less they will have to do for themselves. They will rely upon others to supply them with a good or service instead of working as hard to earn their own living. The American system of welfare and Social Security testify to Lao-Tzu’s remark.

These systems have inspired individuals not to seek the earning of their personal income. In fact, some purposely meet the requirements of poverty just to receive their monthly check; and for some this money is not spent on the essentials required for living but to feed their addiction to drugs or alcohol. Providing people with subsidies leads to less self-reliance, which for many leads to a cycle of immorality. This circle of dependence testifies to Lao-Tzu’s remark, “the more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be” (25).

My belief that Americans could not adopt Lao-Tzu’s tactics may be my own misconception. America is portrayed through the media with a message of dependence, violence and moral decline. Whether or not this is an accurate conception of American society, with this type of representation Americans will have to climb out the hole of the stereotypes as well as the actual facts before accepting a challenge such as the application of Lao-Tzu’s tactics. The majority of Americans do not exercise the moderation that is essential in Lao-Tzu’s society.

Whether within the government or within the citizens, Americans either do what they want to do all the way or they do not do it at all. “For governing a country well there is nothing better than moderation” (26). These statements have strong political importance but they are impractical in most societies. The American society has been developed to depend on the government for certain necessities. Lao-Tzu’s society requires the people to have a strong sense of self-control and self-reliance. A society such as Lao-Tzu’s will be very prosperous and successful if it was developed with these ideals from the beginning.

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