The ruler was to set a moral example. "The ruler must first himself be possessed of the qualities which he requires of the people; and must be free from the qualities which he requires the people to abjure." (Great Learning, c. ix., v. 4.)
Similarly, the Government was required to promote good virtuous officials as a way of obtaining the people's compliance. 'Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit.'" (Analects, bk. ii., c. xix.)
By being virtuous, the leader promoted virtue and correct action among his people. "If the peoplebe led by laws and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments,they will try to avoid the punishment but have no sense of guilt. If theybe led by virtue and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules ofpropriety, they will have the sense of guilt and moreover will become
This happy state of affairs results from the prince's personal conduct as much as his public policies: "When a prince's personal conduct is correct, his government is effective without the issuing of orders. When his personal conduct is not correct, he map issue orders but they will not be obeyed." (Bk. xiii., c. vi.) For the ruler must first embody in himself the quaities that he expects in others: "The ruler must first himself be possessed of the qualities which he requires of the people; and must be free from the qualities which he requires the people to abjure." (Great Learning, c. ix., v. 4.) For a king subdues his people not by force but by persuasion. As Mencius said: "When one subdues men by force, they do not submit to him in heart but because not strong enough to resist. When one subdues men by virtue, they are pleased to the heart's core and sincerely submit." (Bk. ii., pt. i., c. iii., v. 2.)
Indeed, according to Confucius, a true leader was like the Pole Star, giving guidance to the people below him. He states:
Confucius to avoid enthusiasm in the statement of this proposition to which he returns again and again, as thus: "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 toward it." (Analects, bk. ii., c. i.)The use of the pole star as a metaphor may not be fully understood in our era of maps, compasses and GPS. In Confucius's time, the pole star was a celestial beacon and an essential navigation tool. Its imprtance was great. By comparing the virtuous leader to the pole star, Confucius is making an important comparison indeed.