Confucius' Suggestions on How to Govern
(Clearwisdom.net) Confucius was the founder of Confucianism. Confucius' thoughts are based on governing with peace and are centered around kindness. On governance he said, "He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it."
When King Jinggong of the Qi Kingdom asked Confucius for advice on governing a country, Confucius said, "The king should act like a king, Court officials act like court officials, father acts like a father, and son acts like a son. Everyone should be content in his way, and thereby do well in his role."
King Jinggong said, "Well said. If kings don't act like kings, court officials don't act like court officials, fathers don't act like fathers, and sons don't act like sons, then no matter how much grain there is in the country, is there anything for me to eat?"
Ji Kangzi, an official from the Lu Kingdom, inquired about how to govern from Confucius. Confucius said, "Governing, it first has to be upright. You have to take an upright path. If you take an upright path and become the people's role model, who would dare not to choose an upright path?"
Ji Kangzi asked, "What if I kill all the ones who don't choose an upright path so as to make people be upright?"
Confucius said, "If you can be kind, then the people will naturally follow and be kind. The morals of the people in high positions are like the wind, and the common people are like grass. The wind blows on the grass, and the grass turns whichever way the wind does."
Ji Kangzi was concerned about the proliferation of theft, and asked Confucius what to do. Confucius said, "If you can suppress your own greed, [the thieves] would be so ashamed they would not be thieves even if you asked them to."
King Ye asked Confucius for advice on governance. Confucius said, "Make those near you whom you govern admire you and be content with you, and make those who are far away want to come to you."
Zi Gong, a disciple of Confucius', asked about governance. Confucius said, "Amass food, repair and condition weapons, and give the common people confidence." Confucius believed it was most important to give the common people confidence in the country, otherwise the county could not succeed.
On governance, Confucius told Zi Zhang, another disciple, "With kindness in the heart you won't feel tired. Use practice to gain true knowledge to the best of one's ability."
Also on governance, Confucius told Zi Lu, another disciple, "Lead the common people with actions, make yourself a role model," and "Don't slack off."
Zhong Gong became an entourage of the Ji family. He asked Confucius about governance. Confucius said, "Lead the officials with actions. Tolerate small mistakes. Promote the people who are both moral and talented."
Zi Xia asked Confucius about governance. Confucius said, "Don't hastily chase success. Don't be greedy for small profits. Chase success in haste, and you will not achieve it despite the desire for speed. Being greedy for small profits, you will have difficulty accomplishing big goals."
Source: Lun Yu by Confucius