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Western government’s are prone to be built on reason and believe that the individual and the state are two different entities. The government works off of strict codes of conduct that are created to help society, but the people whose hands hold the government are never trained and developed spiritually as an individual. The officials are split into the development of the government and on the other hand continuing their own personal journey, which can cause confusion and confliction. And so, when a government is developing it is done without a whole heart and with a divided attention. But, Eastern governments are built with an emphasis and based on the individual. The writings of Confucius started the train of thought that personal development through filial piety, benevolence, and traditions, will lead to obtaining Ren Ai which is the love of people or compassion and that will lead to a righteous and benevolent government. And, those without these ideals ultimately succumb to failure due to the lack of attention and the concepts that Eastern Nations focus on; since the goal of a culture, society, dynasty, and nation is to preserve their time of rule, then it is best to have the ideals of Ren Ai.
Filial Piety is the love and respect for one's parents and ancestors. Filial piety is one of the core ideals of Confucius and Mencius because it creates and establishes a base personality for a person. This personality is centered on taking responsibility and traditions because performing the traditions will mold the personality into one that is unwavering, steadfast, and responsible. For example, a child is mandated to take care of, honor, love, and respect his or her parents but those ideals aren’t forgotten after the parents pass. If the child stops acting as they should after the death of their parents that is not considered Filial Piety, “Confucius said, “Observe his aspirations when his father is alive, and observe his actions when his father passes away. He may well be called filial if he sticks to his father’s way for three years after the latter’s death” (Confucius, 8) In this case Confucius gives an example of what true filial piety is and is not. By continuing his father’s ways even after his passing shows that the son has developed the intended personality traits, love, respect, honor, and care as well as being, steadfast, unwavering, and responsible. Then through this that person will slowly obtain compassion because they will not only have a solid base but also they will be able to be selfless and put their pride aside, for the betterment of society or in this case their deceased father. But, by not following his fathers’ ways he has not gained anything and everything he has done has been meaningless, “Zi You (a disciple of Confucius’) asked about being Filial. Confucius said,” ‘Nowadays, one is called a filial son only because
one is able to support one’s parents. Actually, however, even dogs and horses are no less able to do this. If one does not treat one’s parents with reverent respect, what is then the difference between him and animals?” (Confucius, 16) Filial piety is not a concept that is a random assortment of tasks and traditions that are to be carried out by the younger generation nor is it a selffish mentality inflicted onto children by their parents so the latter don’t have to work. But, it is a set of traditions that if harnessed can produce a benevolent, filial, and compassionate person that can then go on and help create a righteous and benevolent society. If a person does not go through this type of learning and training, they will become the opposite of the ideal person, and no matter what this person does in the future it will not be complete and righteous, for example western governments, they are created with text book academia but no personal training, and those officials will not become the Confucian ideal people, and no matter how much they try to create a benevolent society it will never happen because they do not have a basic foundation. Filial piety that is mandated in the home of the young person can be taken and applied to his or her views of society and the government when older. By doing so, this society of people will have a righteous and harmonious society, “ You Zi (a disciple of Confucius’) said, “It is rare for a man who is filial towards his parents and respectful to his elder brothers to go against his superiors; never has there been a person who does not like to go against his superiors and at the same time likes to start a rebellion. A
gentleman devotes himself to the basics. Once the basics are established, the principles of government and behavior will grow therefrom. The basics are to be filial toward one’s parents and respectful to one’s elder brother!” (Confucius, 2) In this instance, the government can be looked at as a parental figure, and if the person has that base personality in place, then he will help serve his “parents” the best he can, and the same can be said for the government officials, they can look at society as their parental figure and find ways to best serve them. But, Filial Piety is not a philosophy that is meant to subdue people into obedience, there are also criteria that the government and parents must meet, “King Xuan of Qi asked, ‘Is it the case that Tang banished Jie, and that Wu struck down Zhou?’ Mengzi (Mencius) responded, saying, ‘There are such accounts in the historical records.’ The King said, ‘ Is it acceptable for subjects to kill their rulers?’ Mengzi said, ‘ One who violates benevolence should be called a ‘ thief.’ One who violates righteousness is called a ‘mutilator.’ A mutilator and thief is called a mere ‘fellow.’ I have heard of the execution of a mere fellow ‘Zhou’ but I have not heard of killing one’s ruler.” (Mencius, 125) In this quote shows that in order to be a benevolent ruler they must also act in accordance to the traditions and the ideals of filial piety and if that ruler does not, then his subjects do not have to treat him as a parent and they can rebel. Zhou is a tyrant and is compared to nothing but a mere thief because he does not have any filial piety or compassion and killing him is not killing a ruler. But, if a ruler does act with benevolence and filial piety then he and the government should be followed,
revered, and supported, “ Confucius said, ‘He who rules his state on a moral basis would be supported by the people, just as the Polar Star is encircled by all the other stars.” (Confucius, 12) And in order to become this polar star, filial Piety must be followed and if the following is successful then that person will natural inherit Ren Ai. And when that happens, the nation will be harmonious. Han Wu Di’s purpose for change was that the rulers before him—since the warring states—viewed the government and the individual as two separate entities. The government had all the power and the individual followed. This type of government is similar to the English government. The similarities of these governments are that there is an outward appearance of power but have great internal strife and none of these governments lasted to long. For example England, England has had great Kings, but most of this nations history has had a lot of house changes, in a shorter period of time. The “houses” of England started with the House of Plantagenet(1154) to The United
Kingdom of today in between the 2 there have been 5 other houses(cite 5). Each England house failed like the end of a Dynasty in China, they started to diverge from compassion and care for the people. These nations like England
were the direct opposites of what Confucius teaches and because they did not follow the path to Ren Ai, they failed. But, if they had not been so concerned with the power that they held, or were more compassionate to their people, they would have succeeded more and there would not have been so much instability. So when Han Wu Di was crowned
King at the age of 15 his grandmother had an enormous amount of power in his reign. But, he knew that his own Grandmother was slowly becoming power hungry and was dominated by the old doctrine and way of thinking. And since he was a Confucian and he knew what was wrong and right even if he had to face the fact that it was his own grandmother that was at fault. To correct the wrongs of his reign he found young, capable officials around his age and he took them into a close circle of advisors. Unlike other emperors in history who carried out these techniques, he was not hesitant to remind these advisors that he was their overlord — including punishing them severely or even executing them if they were found to have been corrupt or have hidden secrets from him. But, he respected officials who did not flatter him and honestly chided him when he was wrong. One of the most famous advisors was Ji An ( 汲 黯 ), his offensive and brutal comments made Emperor Wu have fear of him, but he respected Ji's integrity sincerely. His use of Confucianism caused this dynasty to have a strong government, a united people, and an outward spreading of culture, by following the traditions of Confucius’s filial piety. The culmination of all of these things lead Han Wu Di the title of one of Chinas best Emperors. Which, ultimately is the purpose of any person who wants to be in that position, is to have their name go down in history as one of the best, and how that is proven to the rest of the world and to the people is through harmony and peace and providing the atmosphere of Ren Ai( Chinaculture.org,15 Apr 2008)
The reason why this road to compassion is so important is because it is genuine and real. People learn and know how to treat one another not because they were just taught it at school or read in a book but because it resonates with them personally. With the personal investment things like genocides and such would not occur because they would understand the situation on human level and not on an economic and political level like many of the western governments do. A person who has gone down this road of compassion will be very set in who they are and what they want to accomplish and they will have a moral code of conduct based on something that is genuine like their interaction with their parents and not something that was learned at school or heard through the grapevine. For example, The T’ang Dyansty. Of course like many other dynasties, this dynasty also fell. The fall of a dynasty is attributed to the lack of intuition, care, precision, knowledge, and social responsibility of the Emperor. Which in turn means failing is going against the ideas of Confucius and not embodying Ren Ai like a leader should. “ Confucius said, ‘Regulated by the edicts and punishment, the people will know only how to stay out of trouble but will not have a sense of shame. Guided by virtues and the rites, they will not only have a sense of shame but also know how to correct their mistakes of their own accord.” (Confucius, 13) One of the greatest examples of failure was during the Ming and the T’ang Dynasty. They fell because the Emperor became greedy; they no longer looked at the common people as their children. They no longer took care of them and they just wanted
everything for themselves and the people became disgruntled and that’s how they fell. The Last Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (Wanli Emperor) committed suicide—the only emperor in history to have done so—because of how poor the nation was, how angry the people were, and how far he had diverged from the Confucian way of life (“Li”,15 Apr.
2008). Wanli was often absent from court and the court audiences to discuss politics, he
lost interest in studying the Confucian Classics, refused to read petitions and other state papers, and stopped filling vital positions of the upper level administrative posts(“Li”,15 Apr. 2008). Scholarofficials lost power in the administration and the eunuchs became the gobetweens of the absent emperor and his officials; any senior official who wanted to discuss state matters had to persuade and bribe the powerful eunuchs (“Li”,15 Apr. 2008). By having compassion in governing will help society understand why crimes are shameful and wrong instead of scaring them into not committing crimes. By helping them understand the government is helping society help itself. While the government that uses the scare tactic just scares the public, but if the fear was no longer present, the public wouldn’t know what was wrong or right. But, by going down the road to compassion, everyone understands what is right and wrong on a personal level. Confucius had created filial piety in order to establish a road to obtain compassion. And with compassion instilled in both the people and the government, their
society will be harmonious. Filial Piety is not just a philosophy that helps create an ideal person but helps create a harmonious society. But, beside that, it helps create a complete and genuine person who understands things on a personal level and they understand that each person should be treated with respect, love, and honor unless proven otherwise. When reapplied to a government it is one that is created with an undivided attention and a complete heart. So, The belief in Filial Piety is needed now more than ever, where we’re in an age of war, genocide, oppression, discrimination, and school shootings. If the ideals of Filial Piety are followed many of these incidents would not occur because everyone would have a personal and genuine understanding of Compassion and the antithesis of compassion cannot occur and that will both save and change lives in the world.