Treating Them differently from Us, and hoping nobody notices
A society needs to reflect its values. It cannot stray far away from them. Unfortunately, nearly all societies do just that, with neither remorse nor hint of guilt. We have no nostalgia for the “old days”. But what if a society has publicly pledged to do just that? Not to reflect, but to publicize…honor, and venerate? That is, to venerate a cultural moral standard.
For all to see.
Yeah, I’m talking about China.
And I’m talking about Confucius.
First a simple disclaimer. No country is purrrrfeccct. Right? I get it. (But when you fly in my corn field, you are fair game for my shotgun.) Confucianism is making a comeback in the Heavenly
Kingdom. Someone say “calculated”. That may be….but I would prefer to think it is overdue. Confucianism as a guide to live one’s “life” is a high bar for any individual. But to elevate it to a national level for all to see is a bit daring.
With China, it’s simple;
“Watch not what I do, but hear what I say.”
It is the irony of ironies that the same philosophy that Mao and the Party Elders believed kept China down is now to be the tool used to save it. Confucius "treachery knew no bounds". Now "he"(the person) and "it" (the philosophy) is being asked to keep China together, and to serve as a stone, a very large stone, in the dam to keep Chinese society intact and "harmonious".
The moral building block of Confucianism is the The Analects.
Confucius seriously predated Jesus. But by only 500 years. However, while it only took the Roman Empire around 400 years to adopt Christianity, the Chinese did not seriously adopt Confucianism until the Tang, in 600 AD. Still, as a nation, Confucianism utterly dominated Chinese culture, and it’s way of thinking until the 20th century.
The Analects, however, were written after Confucius’ passing, around 400 BC, earliest. 2400 years ago. And surprise, surprise, they were almost certainly not written by Confucius.
As the West has its Ten Commandments, China has its Analects, or more accurately, the “5 virtues of Confucianism”.
One would think 5 rules on “how to live” would be much easier to deal with than 10, right? Shall we take a quick gander? Yes, we shall!
仁 the virtue of benevolence, charity, and humanity
Funny when one reads these words, one cannot but without question think of China, right?
Benevolence….oh yes, as in China’s great benevolence towards its own People.
Charity and Humanity….? China was foremost amongst nations when it donated $100,000 to the Philippines in the aftermath of its recent typhoon.
義of honesty and uprightness
Something tells me Zhou Yongkang was not a follower of Confucius. Neither was Bo Xilai. Nor apparently any official in China today.
恕reciprocity, altruism, consideration for others, and Confucius’ version of the Golden Rule, “what you don’t want yourself, don’t do to others. (Ahhh…consideration for others…!)
信the virtue of faithfulness and integrity; Ok, I think every man in China has had issues with this. Including laowai. (Cause if you haven’t, than you ain’t been livin’…..)
礼correct behavior, or propriety, good manners, politeness,…(hmmm…)
Meanwhile, the Ten Commandments are approximately 3600 years young. They come from God, via Moses. These are the building blocks of Christianity.
Take away either or, and quite frankly, neither civilization would remotely resemble its modern day appearance. Confucianism is the Soul of China, and though other countries won’t admit it, very heavily influenced Korea, Vietnam, etc.
This is where the resemblance ends. Historically, while the concept of separation of Church and State gradually established itself in the West, Confucianism was a State Religion, embraced by all Dynasties.
And therein lays the rub: While one would never imagine a Western Leader, (or much less an Asian), using his power and influence to popularize one religion over another, in China it is entirely at the
Whim of The Leader.
The separation of Church from State in the West is so deeply entrenched that the public espousal of say, Catholicism over a Methodist, by a Western Leader would quite possibly lead to a national crisis. It’s a well known slippery slope. It is avoided.
Yet in China it has been, and now is, being used as a guide to instill into The People a sense of being, a moral compass, to better strengthen the public spirit of the Han.
China’s leaders are now on that slippery slope. Hurtling downwards into the abyss of ridicule. When one so publicly advocates a Way of Thinking and yet so publicly acts contrary to what is spoken, are you not open to ridicule?
In America, state governors go out of their way to show how “righteous” they are, and build inscribed, stone versions of the Ten Commandments on their State Capital Grounds, with one eyelash towards God and the other towards Re-election. My Home State included. These people are, and should be, held in public disdain.
But the influence of a state with a burgeoning population of 3 million people is one thing….and a nation with 1.5 billion people (at least) is another. Which government is more dangerous? My hometown is already a laughingstock. It’s ignored. No matter how silly and ridiculous China’s leadership is however, on this subject, one can never responsibly ignore a country with a billion people.
I’m not against the encouraged use of Confucianism in China. One can say it is not a religion but a philosophy, a guide towards better living. And I would accept that. What one cringes at though is the realization that it is only used for political purposes when it is not applied towards its relations with other countries. Can one customize the creed of Christianity for just a domestic audience, and ignore its impact overseas? No. It makes no sense to apply it towards a domestic audience if one does not intend to use it towards a foreign audience as well.
However that appears to be what China is doing. That is, praise the wisdom of Confucius at home, but act like an ass towards foreigners. China is on the precipice of new cold war within Asia. Basically, every country that matters within Asia is against China.
What would Confucius think?
Sayeth Brother Xi:
“The Chinese nation has always been peace-loving. Our love for peace is also deeply rooted in Confucianism.”
Tell us more about your peace loving intimidation of the Philippines and the rest of Asia, please? No wait, let’s get Confucius’ take:
“Coordinate and seek harmony with all nations" (let me explain: “harmony with Chinese characteristics” means I seek self fulfillment of my needs and desires first….then I’ll think of you)
"Associating with the benevolent and befriending neighbors is a precious virtue of the state" (This is Confucius talking?)
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" (say what?)
Neighbors wish each other well, just as loved ones do to each other"….(unless you are in my fucking
way and have something I want)
"A warlike state dies inevitably, no matter how big it is" (how big? Say China big?)
As one can tell from above, China is somewhat selective with what it wishes to learn and pass on to its people and what it wishes to ignore. (as are other countries)
Again, every country has a very big problem living up to its own ideals….but when a nation so goes out of its way to paint a policy to its people of both righteousness and “how to live”, and then so publicly and quickly abandons such in its treatment toward other nations, kinda puts a bad spin on your motive, does it not?
I don’t see any nations telling its people to live by the Ten Commandments.
Know why? That’s not the job of government! And here lies the problem China has. In China the CCP is the Church. The Temple of Higher Learning. Its doctrine is paramount. Tis the priest and the altarboy rolled into ONE. It is the propagator of how to think, and what to chant. The CCP has a bully pulpit and no one is allowed to use it….except the Masters of the CCP.
Pretty nice gig, eh?
Maybe we should “Hear not what you say…..but watch what you do…. “