Being Fond of Good People is Good Enough to Rule the World
The State of Lu planned to let Le Zhengzi govern the state. Mencius was very glad to hear the news. His disciple Gongsun Chou asked, “Is Le Zhengzi very experienced?” Mencius said, “No.” Gongsun Chou asked, “Then why are you pleased?” Mencius said, “He likes to listen to well-intended advice and he has always fulfilled his responsibilities dutifully.” Gongsun Chou asked again, “Are these sufficient?” Mencius said, “With these qualities, one can rule the world, not to mention govern the State of Lu. If one likes to listen to truth, he will only be willing to meet with good people and the sly people would have no market. If one does not like to listen to righteous words, then those with breadth of vision will kept far away and those sycophants that offer flattering words will come. If one is surrounded by people of vile character, how can one govern a country well? Officials must dare to uphold justice and fairness. If one cannot be diligent and responsible, why then would one want to be an official?” This illustrates how a person of noble character always maintains righteousness, understands the big picture and is clear about morality while fulfilling the duty to promote the good.
A Benevolent Monarch Is Invincible
Mencius said, “Only benevolent people can be invincible in the world and only with benevolent governance can a country be prosperous and can people live in peace. If people higher up do not follow reason and good sense to restrain themselves and people below do not use laws to bind themselves, if governments do not believe in morality and justice, officials do not abide by the law, gentlemen violate justice, villains violate the criminal law – then a country will be lucky to even survive. City walls that are not thick enough or a lack of a strong military are not risks to a country; a state that does not have vast lands or great wealth is not the curse. Not revering morality is the calamity for a state. Consequently, remonstrating with a monarch to cultivate virtue and carry out benevolent governance is to respect one’s monarch. Expounding to a monarch with reason to clear up his wicked ideas is being respectful to a monarch. Flattering and currying favor with a monarch is to entrap him. When a monarch himself is upright, the world will come to be in allegiance with him. The Book of Songs stated, ‘Align with the mandate of heaven and one will have joy.’ Living in the world’s widest residence – benevolence; standing in the most correct position – etiquette; walking on the broadest road in the world – righteousness; wealth cannot confuse one’s thoughts, rank cannot change one’s conduct, and force will not make one yield. This is what a benevolent person does.”
Mencius lived in the middle of the Warring States Period, during which time etiquette collapsed and society was in turmoil. Nevertheless, he did not hesitate to push forward in promoting morality and justice. He believed that the difference between people was not whether one is rich or poor, but rather, having the ability to maintain noble morality and have a clear conscience. Enlightening to the good side of people’s minds and helping them follow heaven’s way is the true reason for exhorting people.
浩然之氣 至大至剛 (三)