Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Written by a committee over time of people who didn't all know each other because they lived over centuries, the Tao Te Ching is attributed to Lao Tzu. Various people wrote down how life works over time, and then someone, or several someones, put the sayings together.

Number 17 in the collection of wise ways of living says that the way the best leader works people hardly know that the best leader exists. The next best leader is loved. After that in quality is the leader who is feared. The worst leader is hated.

I just read five translations of that at the bookstore. They were all more or less like that except the one that didn't even mention the word leader. It talked about the best and the less without ever saying the best what. Given that Number 17 in the Tao is pro-subtlety, that may be a particularly good translation.

The translations that used the word leader said that the best leader does not talk but acts. When good things happen under the best leader, the people say, "We did it ourselves."