If the people were always in awe of death, and I could always seize those who do wrong, and put them to death, who would dare to do wrong?For me, these lines go to the heart of excessive punishment. When punishment is excessive, as mentioned in yesterday's entry, people don't fear it. It represents little more than routine background noise.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~
If men live in constant fear of dying,
And if breaking the law means that a man will be killed,
Who will dare to break the law?
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~
If people are made to constantly fear death
Then those who act unlawfully
I can capture and kill them
Who would dare?
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~
If people are afraid to die,
and the wicked are condemned to death,
then who would dare to commit evil?
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
However, if punishments are fair and only severe for the worst of the worst crimes, then who would commit those crimes? Me thinks only those individuals who have given up on life already.
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