Six Refined Scholars, Qing Dynasty


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, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

There are many slogans that Humanism could adopt, but “We did it ourselves!” is perhaps one of the most powerful.  There are so many organizations where the membership is better than the leadership of those organizations.  I will leave the names to each of you to determine, but I can think of at least one country whose people are respected and thought of much more kindly than its government.  I can also think of a vast religious organization whose members are much more moral and spiritual than their leaders.  Ironically, at to my eyes, in each case those very same people defer to and defend the hierarchy above them, even when it runs counter to their best impulses and philosophies.  Such are the nature of heirarchies.  But if we awaken, we can indeed, do it all by ourselves!