Goodness is not only indispensable in the conduct of everyday life; it is also the wellspring of civilized government. No virtuous man, Mencius emphatically declares, would kill a single innocent man in order to gain the empire. Like Confucius, Mencius puts merit above rank. He posits that there are three things which are acknowledged by the world as exalted: rank, age, and virtue. “At court, rank is supreme; in the village, age; but for assisting the world and ruling over the people it is virtue.” Mencius contends that virtue is in the end even more valuable than life itself, for someone who seeks to save his life at any cost will readily sacrifice virtue and honor. Even destitute people have a sense of honor and shame. When the food he badly needs is given with abuse and contempt, even a beggar will not accept it.