When the Master governs,
the people are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.
If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done, the people say,
‘Amazing, we did it, all by ourselves!’
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 17, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
What Would Happen If We Trusted Ourselves?
Here in the United States, the Republicans have made use of their opportunity to tell us what they plan to do for, or to, us. They want us to love them? That isn’t happening! I am inclined to not only fear them, but despise them, too. This coming week, the Democrats will get the same opportunity. The same choices are being offered. Love, fear, or despise them. And, once again, I already know the answer. We aren’t being offered a wise and virtuous choice.
Give me a wise and virtuous leader, who doesn’t just talk, like these two blowhards, but acts. One who trusts us, and thus makes us worthy of their trust. If that was on offer, we would hardly be aware that they exist. Then, when their work was done, we would be able to truly say, “Amazing! We did it, all by ourselves!”
Instead, we have these two evil choices. All talk! But, woe to us, if either one of them get to act. For their actions demonstrate how little they trust us, and how little we should trust them. It is because they don’t trust us, we don’t dare trust them. But, does their lack of trust make us unworthy of trusting ourselves?
It is amazing what we can do all by ourselves. Those who doubt this, lack imagination. Come on guys, don’t let your imagination atrophy. Just because the powers that be don’t trust us, doesn’t mean we can’t trust ourselves There is a tremendous power unleashed by wise and virtuous leaders who trust us. And, since the powers that be aren’t offering us this kind of leader, we need to be this kind of leader for ourselves. Take these lessons for would-be leaders to heart. Put them into practice in our own lives. Then, we can be the kind of leaders we so desperately need. Now, and always.