Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one. -Chinese proverb
This Chinese proverb suggests that while laws may be necessary to control the behaviour of the common man, it is right conduct that controls the behaviour of the more virtuous and noble person. It implies that a person who is truly wise and ethical will not need laws to govern their behaviour, as they will be guided by their own sense of what is right and wrong.
The quote suggests that laws are important in maintaining social order and preventing chaos, but they are not enough to ensure that people behave ethically and virtuously. It implies that the truly great person is one who is guided by their own sense of morality and ethics, rather than simply following the laws and regulations of society.
For example, imagine a person who follows all the laws of their country but engages in unethical business practices, such as exploiting their employees or cheating their customers. While they may not be breaking any laws, their behaviour is still unethical and harmful to others. On the other hand, imagine a person who always acts with honesty and integrity, even if it means going against the laws or norms of society. They may not always be in compliance with the laws, but their behaviour is always guided by their own sense of what is right and wrong.
Overall, this quote suggests that while laws are important in maintaining social order, it is right conduct and personal ethics that truly govern the behaviour of the greater and more virtuous person. It implies that the truly great person is one who is guided by their own sense of morality and ethics, rather than simply following the laws and regulations of society.