Confucius 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.…
“Those who love their parents dare not show hatred to others. Those who respect their parents dare not show rudeness to others.”…
“Filial piety is the basis of virtue and the origin of culture…” (My Country and My People. by Lin Yutang. Holcyon House, New York. 1938. Pg. 179) Discover what Fragments of My Thoughts has to say about Lin Yutang and the Chinese language.
Today, it is as if older people are to be invisible and silent while handing over everything they worked hard for to youngsters that expect to do or get whatever they want. In North America, we have spawned more than one generation of narcissists.
There are other countries where children are still taught to be respectful of their elders and value the work it takes to gain an education. China is one of those countries.
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 emphasis placed on filial piety, which is regarded as the ‘first of all virtues’.
To learn more about Confucius and piety, check out this site at the Journal for International Relations. I’m not saying what Confucius taught was perfect but it served China well for centuries and still play a vital part of the culture in China.
I read ‘any damn fool can be a parent’, and it made me think that North America is not a comfortable place to be if you become a geezer. Geezer is the endearing term our teenage daughter used to call me.
When I was a kid, youngsters were to be seen and not heard. We treated our elders with respect. And I was born in America.
After the birth of Disneyland, fast food, MTV, the Internet and the iPod generation, something valuable caught a cancer that spread through too much of American culture. That something is killing off ‘respect’. In China it is called piety and piety is very much alive. In other Asian countries like South Korea, piety is just as strong. You can read more about this in Hello Korea.