Ready for battle

Confucius said: “After a good ruler has taught the people for seven years they are ready for battle.”

Confucius said: “Sending people to war who have not been properly taught is the same as throwing them away.”

Even though his teachings were focused on promoting peace and stability, Confucius was pragmatic enough to realize that there are times when war is unavoidable and that a ruler needs to prepare his people for such an event.

His implication in the final two chapters of Book 13 of the Analects is that this requires not only giving them practical military training but also inculcating in them the right values so that they understand what they are defending if they are ever called into battle.

After all, even the best-equipped army in the world has very little chance of winning a war if its soldiers have no idea what they are fighting for.

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