When Americans think of government they tend to think about the confusing and boring side of it. Many also think about the perplexing situations that politicians deal with. If Americans looked at government from the Tao-Te-Ching aspect, they would look at government much differently. The Tao has various meanings, in one way it means "the way", but it can also mean "the way to live." The Tao-Te-Ching, written by Lao-Tzu, was understood to be a handbook for politicians. The Tao-Te-Ching ought to be the handbook for not only politicians but Americans as well. Not only does this piece teach about government but also it teaches self-value.
This wisdom that is derived from ancient China confronts its readers with a baffling language and a moral experience that is almost personal. In many ways this text bears a resemblance to poetry, there are numerous concealed meanings that have to be closely read and interpreted. The Tao-Te-Ching can be seen or meant as "the way to live." Americans live by the government; it gives citizens laws that are to be followed at all times with no exceptions. The Tao states (Verse 57; line 36), "The more prohibitions you have the less virtuous people will be." American society was founded upon rebellion. The early American colonists revolted against the English government. The more laws and restrictions the King placed on them the more they rebelled and fought.
When the American people feel oppressed by any law or prohibition set by the government the people will challenge it in an effort to change it. Laws are designed to protect society as a whole from wrongful actions. There are many laws that a United States citizen has to follow, but everyday a law is broken. Whether it is a murder or a store theft, every law in the United States is not abide by.
The more that the law is enforced there are criminals around to break them. In 1994 the federal "Crime Bill," was signed into law by President Clinton, included was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. This new law was thought to bring a little more peace amongst Americans everywhere (NRA, 2003, para. 1). According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the crime rate has gone up since this law was made in 1994.
In 1994 the number of citizens jailed became a very high number of 486, 474, within that year that number increased by more than 20, 000. From the time when the "Crime Bill" was signed the number of citizens jailed enlarged by more than 179, 000. All of this proves that the more laws that are made, the less moral most Americans become. The Tao-Te-Ching explains that, "The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be." Weapons exist not for the making of peace, but for the making of violence.
Weapons make many Americans feel unsafe and paranoid, weapons kill and destroy, no one wants to walk amongst convicts and killers. Americans will feel that they are in a great amount of danger if the need to be protected with weapons is so significant. America is the land of "The Free", who wants to become a prisoner of their home, because the world is becoming too dangerous to live in? Weapons create all of this turmoil and as Americans no one deserves to feel unsafe. In 2002, twenty one percent of incidents of violent crime, a weapon was present. Offenders used a weapon in forty six percent of all robberies, compared with seven percent of all rapes / sexual assaults in 2002 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003, Weapons, para.
1). If weapons were non-existent then homicides are unheard of. Who feels safe in a nation where one child dies every three days due to the fact that they were shot or killed unintentionally in firearm-related incidents (Fire Arm Safety Devices, 2003, para. 2)? The more subsides that are given to Americans the less independent they will become. When Citizens are regularly provided with any service the less they will have to do for themselves. Every year more Americans start to depend on welfare and social security benefits.
Social security and welfare costs accounted for about twenty percent of total government disbursement in 2000/2001 against eight-teen percent in 1995/96 (Central Statistics, 2002, para. 4). The American system of welfare and Social Security support Lao-Tzu's statement that, "The more subsides you have, the less self-reliant people will be." These systems have inspired individuals not to seek the earning of their personal income. In fact, for some this money is not spent on the essentials required for living but to feed their addiction to drugs or alcohol. Providing people with subsidies leads to less self-reliance, which for many leads to a life of corruption. Ruling a country effectively is brought up through a variety of methods.
Lao-Tzu, a follower of Taoism, expresses his belief on the most efficient way to govern. Lao-Tzu's statements have strong political value but they are unrealistic in most societies. The Tao-Te-Ching teaches about government and also teaches about self-value. The Tao-Te-Ching can be interpreted in many different ways.
The author discusses what he feels the role of a leader should be, the restrictions and the privileges that should be given to the people. There are various views on this piece even among Americans. Although the Tao-Te-Ching contains many controversial issues it is a way to live by, there is no better way to live than in peace and at ease. "For governing a country well there is nothing better than moderation" (Verse 59).