My life didn’t start when I became eligible for Social Security and/or Medicare. In fact, I worked for forty-five years starting at fifteen washing dishes and ended a thirty-year career at sixty as an overworked and underpaid, ‘often verbally abused’ teacher in California’s public schools.
I am a former U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam. After the Marines I went to college on the GI Bill and spent close to a decade attending universities to earn an Associate-of-Science degree, a BA in journalism, and finally an MFA in writing. I even worked as a public school teacher for thirty of those years often working 60 – 100 hours a week sometimes arriving at the school where I taught as early as six in the morning. In addition, in China teachers are respected; not abused.
Confucius ( BC 551 – 479) said, “The reason why the gentleman teaches filial piety is not because it is to be seen in the home and everyday life. He teaches filial piety in order that man may respect all those who are fathers in the world. … He teaches brotherliness in the younger brother, in order that man may respect all those who are elder brothers in the world. He teaches the duty of the subject, in order that man may respect all who are rulers in the world.”
Both Taoism (also known as Daoism) and Confucianism stress the importance of paying proper respect to elders, especially parents and grandparents, and deceased ancestors are honored with various ceremonies and rituals.
Confucius said, “Those who love their parents dare not show hatred to others. Those who respect their parents dare not show rudeness to others.”
However, in the United States, it is obvious that we have spawned more than one generation of narcissists, and a malignant narcissist, Donald Trump, was recently elected president of the United States. Trump treats many with rudeness and he encourages and supports bullies and racism.
More than twenty-four hundred years ago, Confucius dedicated his life to the moral training of his culture. He lived during the Warring States period before China was unified. Living with all of that violence and death, he dreamed of a land where people could live happily and harmoniously together.
Only in this sense can one understand the tremendous virtue placed on filial piety, which is regarded as the ‘first of all virtues’ not only in China but also many other Asian countries.
I’m not saying what Confucius taught was perfect, but those lessons have served China well for centuries and is still a vital element of Chinese culture.
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