Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
(Chinese: "nonaction"), in Chinese Taoism, the principle of yielding to others as the most effective response to the problems of human existence. Wu-wei does not mean total passivity. Rather, it is natural, nonaggressive behaviour that compels others (through shame, if for no other reason) to desist voluntarily from violence or overly aggressive conduct. Taoism, therefore, is not indifferent to violence, for it counters violence in its own paradoxical way. Ideally, Taoists do not argue or debate. They rely on proper timing to set forth what they believe to be true, and they speak out against unseemly conduct only when their words are likely to be heeded. Taoists view laws and controls as undesirable repressions of human nature. For them a society with the fewest controls governs itself best. Wu-wei is thus regarded as the secret to human happiness, for through "nonaction" all things can be accomplished.