治人事天 They ushered us onto the galactic stage. 莫若嗇 We couldn't have asked for a better guide. 夫唯 嗇是謂早服 早服謂之重積德 Above all Vulcans showed us that they're very responsible, and that responsibility is just a habit of doing the right thing.
重積德則無不克 Once we got in the habit of doing the right thing, we realized that we could accomplish anything. 無不克則莫知其極 Once we could accomplish anything, we discovered the law of unintended consequences. 莫知其極可以有國 Actions have consequences, so we established the Federation. 有國之母可以長久 We follow the Federation's directives, so we live long and prosper.
是謂深根固柢 長生久視之道 They showed us that deep commitment and steady character are the Vulcan way of prosperity and progress, longevity and logic.
This is one of a few poems that address the reason that government exists. So far, this is the only one I'm aware of that seems to offer a logical argument.
It goes something like this. If we're conservative 嗇, we make do 早服, and we collect a lot of De 重積德. With enough good will 重積德, there's nothing we can't accomplish 無不克, but we have no idea yet what kind of havoc our accomplishments will wreak 莫知其極. That's why we have government 有國, and human beings grow and last 長久 when we follow a motherly Dao of how to govern our actions and their consequences 有國之母.
Sarah Queen says that 早服 is early to submit, 重積德 is repeatedly accumulate potency, and she points out that Han Feizi says that 母 of 有國之母 is 道. They were my key to unlocking this poem. She also mentions that 嗇 seems a lot like 儉 from Three Treasures. Sarah A. Queen, "Han Feizi and the Old Master: A Comparative Analysis and Translation of Han Feizi Chapter 20, Jie Lao, and Chapter 21, Yu Lao", Dao Companion to the Philosophy of Han Fei, 2013.
The 德 of 重積德 is missing from Mawangdui. Laozi's utopia is a land of steady habits.
The previous chapter introduces 知其極 as the punchline to 禍兮福之所倚 福兮禍之所伏, companion saying to The old man lost his horse. Success builds on failure, disaster hides in luck. Who knows what fate has in store?
According to Kroll, 長生 is long life and 久視 is enduring vision.