12.7

Zigong asked Confucius about government.

Confucius replied, “Enough food, enough weapons, and the confidence of the people in their ruler.”

Zigong then asked, “But suppose you have to give up one of these three. Which would you give up first?

Confucius replied, “Weapons.”

Zigong said “And what if you had to give up one of the remaining two?”

Confucius replied, “Food. Death has been with us since ancient times, but if the people lose confidence in their ruler, the community cannot stand.”