A Just Cause Enjoys Abundant Support While an Unjust Cause Finds Little Support.
The Chinese phrase dedao (得道) or “obtaining Dao” here refers to having “a just cause.” Since ancient times Chinese people have had a high esteem for justice and have thought of justice as a decisive factor determining success or failure in war and other enterprises. Only by upholding justice can one achieve internal unity and popular support, which are essential for the success of a war or a cause; otherwise, popular support is lost and the ruler or leader becomes too isolated and helpless to succeed. This is a specific expression of the Chinese notion of “governance based on virtue” and the spirit of”civilization.”
The people are not confined by boundaries, the state is not secured by dangerous cliffs and streams, and the world is not overawed by sharp weapons. The one who has Dao enjoys abundant support while the one who has lost Dao finds little support. When lack of support reaches its extreme point, even a ruler’s own relatives will rebel against him. When abundant support reaches its extreme point, the whole world will follow him. If one whom the whole world follows attacks one whose own relatives rebel against him, the result is clear. Therefore, a man of virtue either does not go to war, or if he does, he is certain to win victory. (Mencius)
Jie and Zhou lost all under heaven because they lost the people. They lost the people because they lost the people’s hearts. There is a way to win all under heaven: if you win the people, you win all under heaven. There is a way to win the people: if you win their hearts, you win the people. There is a way to win their hearts: amass for them what they desire, do not impose on them what they detest, and it is as simple as that. (Mencius)