e g r e g o r e s

"Graciously bestow upon all men felicity, the summit of which is the knowledge of the Gods." [Julian, Oration to the Mother of the Gods]

Mencius on the Debt Ceiling Crisis

Mencius had an audience with King Hui of Liang.
The king said, “Sir, you did not consider a thousand li too far to come. You must have some ideas about how to benefit my state.”

Mencius replied, “Why must Your Majesty use the word ‘benefit’? All I am concerned with are the benevolent and the right.

“If Your Majesty says, ‘How can I benefit my state?’
your officials will say, ‘How can I benefit my family,’ and officers and common people will say, ‘How can I benefit myself.’

“Once superiors and inferiors are competing for benefit, the state will be in danger.

“When the head of a state of ten thousand chariots is murdered, the assassin is invariably a noble with a fief of a thousand chariots, When the head of a fief of a thousand chariots is murdered, the assassin is invariably head of a subfief of a hundred chariots. Those with a thousand out of ten thousand, or a hundred out of a thousand, had quite a bit. But when benefit is put before what is right, they are not satisfied without wanting it all.

“By contrast there has never been a benevolent person who neglected his parents or a righteous person who put his lord last.

“Your Majesty perhaps will now also say, ‘All I am concerned with are the benevolent and the right.’ Why mention ‘benefit?’ ”

From: Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, 2d ed. (New York: Free Press, 1993), pp. 22-23. (online here: http://www.chinapage.com/mencius2n.html)

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