Chapter LXXX is definitely more of a theory than a practical rubric for effective governance. While I think not having curiosity because of contentment happens quite often, a couple of opposites are also true. First, people might not be able to travel because of financial hardship or political oppression, which means that the leader is not actually following the Tao. Secondly, even in content communities, there is always going to be that one person with wanderlust or an insatiable curiosity. I’m one of those people. I’m not able to stay in one place for long because there is just so much to see. That’s not because I haven’t lived in some great places. It’s just life.
If a country is governed wisely,
its inhabitants will be content.
They enjoy the labor of their hands
and don’t waste time inventing
Since they dearly love their homes,
they aren’t interested in travel.
There may be a few wagons and boats,
but these don’t go anywhere.
There may be an arsenal of weapons,
but nobody ever uses them.
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens,
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
And even though the next country is so close
that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
they are content to die of old age
without ever having gone to see it.