What if I am the garbage comber, what if I am God?

My daily jogging is now changed into jogging on alternate days. I run at least 3km every other day, sometimes 5km and I plan to extend the route into 6km and keep it that way for a while. Today I did 5km but didn’t feel enough because I didn’t sweat as much as before. Next time I will wear my wrist watch so that I can time my speed.

Now back to the topic of this post.

Many times when I return from my jogging, I saw a middle-aged woman combing through garbage bins. Once I saw her bending her upper body into the trunk of the garbage cart and digging. Obviously she collects recyclable things and sells them to make a living.

I took pity on her because it is such a ghastly job and I cannot imagine how I can endure it if I were her. Imagine the smell and all kinds of nasty things you may find inside piles of garbage contained in plastic bags. What if I am in her position, how would I change my fate? Presumably nobody wants to do such a kind of job, even the most dedicated ascetic would shun away from this way of living.

If I were this woman, would I be tied down to this job forever, busying feeding myself, and never have a chance to escape? Most probably? Would I be able to squeeze out some spare time and learn different skills at the age of 50? Would I quit that nasty job and become a dish washer or street sweeper? Would I so hate myself that I would plunge into the sea in the stormed weather? Or my mind would be so numbed that I don’t even pity myself or care nothing other than the garbage harvesting?

I do not know the answers. I wish I could see the woman’s life to this point on a screen so that I could draw some lessons.

Today, when I entered my neighborhood and saw her again, I suddenly had his idea: what if I am God, what can I do to change her miserable life?

My immediate thought is make her life even worse off and utterly desperate so that she can be galvanized into taking some drastic measures to change her life. Then I can help her and decorate her new path with more opportunities and pleasant surprises. I know giving her more garbage to harvest will not make her life better, and only when she has nothing to lose, she will try to seek a different path and only at that time my help will not become charity.

In one sense, I am no different from the garbage woman. Do I dare to break away from my current and start a new one?

Disclaimer:

My judgement on the woman who collects garbage is merely and completely conjured in my mind, and it does not reflect her true state of mind and living style. She may be a perfectly happy woman with a very fulfilling life. After all, nobody can say guarantee that an emperor lives better than a peasant.

 

What the perfect MS Windows is like?

Windows 7 has just been released in the market, and it has got a lot of media attention. Still it is just an upgrade of the previous Windows and another step forward on the familiar design track of Microsoft. As time goes by, this will not work very well on this Internet age. Here I offer some advice to MS on how to make a better OS in this Internet age.

The very first thing — the starting point and the foundation of a revolutionary Windows release — should be integration of the OS itself with the flow of information. Let’s face it: the sole function of an OS is to facilitate the flow of information. So far, Windows just give you a tool to process information rather than deliver information right to the door. Bill Gates has to think one step ahead — what a typical user actually need right after installing a new OS? How much work does the user have to do in order to actually getting his daily life on a computer started?

So far, all the Windows versions are just like an unfurnished house, and the users have to labor hard and attend to many chores just to start living in it. This is too much work for users and a better Windows should be like a hotel room that well anticipate users needs and provide for them.

Let me elaborate on this with specific suggestions:

  • Present to users a list of wonderful free applications in the software world. There are hundreds of free, powerful easy-to-use applications available in the wild world. MS can make the user’s day by present to them this list classfied with its functions and a short description, or even a popularity rate and help the user install them with a few clicks. Those good applications will make the Windows a humble servent presenting a tray of gems to the user, and people will buy Windows simply to use the applications they love.
  • Make Windows highly componentized. Windows should scale its installation choices from a barebone installation with minimal services, a server, a media station and an Internet Information Station. And people should easily combine or remove components without hassel. Most people will still have the default installation that suits every body, but there should be a choice that the user can installation a minimal Windows version and expand it the way he likes — have his own browser, media player, email client and instant messenger. Instead of obstructing this from happening, MS should do all it can to make it happen. MS just need to keep this in mind: a winner OS is a one that facilite rather than control or obstruct what its users want to do. What’s more — this will make Windows resource-efficient and safer.
  • Forget its MSN search, the windows media player, the live space and hotmail. There are secondary services and products compared to the leading providers such as google. These secondary services waste MS’s engery and money, and make it forgetting what an OS is truely supposed to do — to provide the best services and the faciliate the information flow. It should make itself the best platform for discovering and delivering the services its users need.

The perfect Windows I envision should be called ‘the Information OS’ that takes users on a joyous ride in the torrent of information flow — nothing less, nothing more. I’ll leave the details to Mr. Bill Gates to figure out.

Is Chinese difficult to learn?

Some Oxford-educated English man claims in his blog that China should use an alphabetical writing system, and China’s failing to do so in history partly resulted in the high level of illiteracy. He goes like this

[China failed to invent stuff] Like an alphabet. Really, how hard is that? The Koreans managed to transform their character-based system into a very serviceable syllabic alphabet nearly 600 years ago. Amongst the reasons why China still hasn’t achieved a high level of literacy….

It is not the first time westerners point a finger at Chinese culture and claiming it backward, outdated or lacking creativity. Well, China has to ‘disappoint’ them for yet another time, because China will never use an alphabetical writing system. Koreans designed their square-shaped writing system, Vietnamese reverted from Chinese characters to French alphabets after being colonized and Japanese are using half-Chinese and half-syllables. But these examples do not mean that China, the inventor of its unique writing system, will follow suit just because an Oxford man can’t learn it.

The reason is very simple: Chinese writing system is part of Chinese culture, and it has been a very stable and mature writing system over the past 2,000 years. Its earliest appearances date back to 1,000 B.C. A remarkable treasure of cultural heritage has been preserved by this consistent writing system, and this is part of the reason that Chinese conquered the barbaric conquerors from the North. To claim that China should discard its unique writing system is tantamount to a cultural genocide, something western colonists excelled at. Just look at the whole American continent!

The writing system of Chinese, in all its uniqueness, perpetuated and preserved our culture. It is China itself in one sense.

The value of Chinese writing system aside, I am going to explain in simple words why Chinese are actually easier to learn than English and other major European languages:

  • Chinese grammar is an ideational grammar. It is very straightforward with an intense focus on ideas rather than grammatical forms which are commonplace in European languages. Translated literally, Chinese goes like this: I EAT-le THREE APPLE. No conjugation and no plural form. To express a past tense just add the universal “le” at the end of the verb. The plural form of APPLES is semantically redundant because the word THREE said it all. The economy of grammatical forms and the focus on ideas make Chinese simple to learn yet powerfully expressive, a hallmark best exemplified by Chinese poems.
  • Chinese uses symbols very efficiently, and knowing about 3,000 Chinese characters is more than enough to read extensively in modern China. Ideas rarely exhaust the combination of a few thousand everyday Chinese characters, and a learned person in China is not judged by how many characters he knows. To read extensively in English, one would learn about 20,000 words to say the least. A simple example is suffice to show the difference : In English you say January, February, March etc, but in Chinese you simply say Month 1, Month 2 … I have been learning English for over ten years and I still come across new words more often than not. While Americans have to take the GRE test to enter graduate schools, Chinese students are poring over English glossaries in order to pass the qualifying English test for a master’s program in Chinese Literature. What an irony.
  • Contrary to the widespread superstition that Chinese characters are difficult to write, writing a Chinese character is not difficult at all. Even a Gecko caveman can do it. Sounds too good to be true? Just install Microsoft Pinyin on your computer, change into Chinese language input method, and type “woaizhongwen” without the quotation marks. Do you see it? You have just written 我爱中文 which means I love Chinese language. Admittedly, it takes some training to write Chinese characters by hand, but it is not difficult for Chinese kids at all. It is in their blood, remember? Besides, fewer and fewer Chinese write by hand today because typing characters into a computer screen is so easy and fast.

Ignorance of a foreign culture is always pardonable, but passing judgment about a country’s writing system with quarter-knowledge passes for stupidity.

The Rise of the Civil Society in the Wake of the Sichuan Earthquake

It has been more than a week since the deadly earthquake struck Sichuan Province. Among the debris, the enormous suffering and the heavy loss of lives, there rises the hope of an emerging civil society.

Strong government and a weak society was a prominent feature in Chinese history. China was an agricultural society, and every household in the rural area, as an individual economic unit, formed the fundation of the society. The connections among these economic units were loose and almost nonexistent. On top of this base, there was a hierarchical bureaucracy directly controlled by the throne. The bureaucratic system, to perform the tasks of taxing, drafting as well as to sustain its own survival, must exert tight and efficient control of the base population. Coupled with the scarce connections among the economic units at the base, a strong government and a weak society became an inevitable phenomenon throughout Chinese history.

China’s civil society has been budding and growing over the past three decades. After all, rapid economic growth will inevitably nurture the spirit of civil society and empower it with necessary economic means. This earthquake became a window opportunity to observe the Chinese civil society in action.

  • Tens of thousands volunteers all over China hurried to the devastated area for the rescue and relief work. This spontaneous action may indicate two things: the increased mobility of normal citizens; the awakening of the sense of civil duty. When interviewed by the reporter, a volunteer, who is on pension himself, said he volunteered because he wanted to repay the society for the tuition waiver his kids received. Chen Guangbiao, who is an entrepreneur in construction in Jiangsu Province, arrived at the site with 60 construction machines and 120 of his employees almost at the same time with the PLA soldiers.
  • The Internet and other media played an enormous role in both informing the public and conveying the public opinions. The servers of the most popular liberal forum KDNET were overloaded, and there were discussions of lowering the national flag to half-mast before the decision was announced by the State Council. Netizens also fervently debated the predictability of earthquakes, the reasons for the delayed entry of the foreign rescue teams, the auditing of the donations to the red cross, and the promptness of sending the paratroops.
  • The government mobilized resources and man power with unprecedented scale in the relief work. Never before did China lower her national flag in major disasters and sound the sirens in a three day national mourning. The press conference is held on a daily basis, and some thorny questions raised by the journalists and their answers are accessible to the general public. The central television station covered the earthquake extensively with compassion and grief that brought tears into the eyes of the whole nation.

As I mentioned above, the rise of the civil society is inevitable in Chinese society, but its presence was almost forgotten. The remarkable display of the civil spirit in this earthquake make me believe the fervent, stark, often blind nationalism can not be the only force that shapes China’s future.

Successful Earthquake Predictions in China

CAN AN EARTHQUAKE BE PREDICTED?

Can. Period.

“Earthquake prediction, though challenging, is not impossible, at least for some earthquakes” — American Geological Institute (AGI)

WHAT IS A VALID PREDICTION FOR AN EARTHQUAKE?

According to Wikipedia, a meaningful earthquake prediction must have all the following elements: Specific area; Specific magnitude or magnitude range; Specific time window; Estimate of probability compared to random chance; A physical basis.

THE PREFECT PREDICTION

China successfully predicted the magnitude 7.3 Haicheng Earthquake in 1975. It is the first successful prediction of the earthquake in human history.

This prediction is not just an isolated instance.

MORE SUCCESS STORIES

Chen Jianming, the head of the State Seismological Bureau (SSB) of China, said in an interview by CCTV “I believe earthquakes can be predicted — practice is the sole criterion for testing truth. Haicheng Earthquake mentioned just now is a good example. We also have more than twenty effective predictions and forecasts over the past thirty years.”

Another well known example is the remarkable story of Qinglong County in 1976 Tangshan Earthquake. Taking great political risks, the county officials implemented comprehensive measures to prepare for the quake and only a single person died of heart attack in the deadly earthquake. Ran Guangqi, the party secretary and the administrator of the Qinglong county, responded to the doubters of Qinglong miracle by saying “Some say that the Qinglong case is like ‘a blind cat bumped into a dead mouse’, but I say those people have scales on their eyes and they know it.”

Ran Guangqi, the head of Qinglong Country was awarded a medal by the U.N.for his courage to act and care for his people. He says
“Chairman Mao’s words emboldened me — a communist is fearless of the five things: being beheaded, imprisoned, and divorced…” said he, on his courageous decision to mobilize the people to prepare for the incoming earthquake

BUT EVEN JAPAN AND U.S. CANNOT PREDICT EARTHQUAKES

Well. China invented the first seismograph about 1800 years ago, at least a thousand years earlier than the appearance of similar devices in other places. China was the leading country in earthquake predictions thirty years ago.

THEN HOW TO PREDICT QUAKES?

I am no seismologist, and can only tell you what I read from the Internet.

Earthquake Cloud

First of all, there should be numerous precursors before a major temblor. This includes strange animal behavior, the abnormal changes in the temperature, clarity and level of ground water, earthquake clouds, Day-glo colors in the sky. The list goes on.

Secondly, quake scientists have instruments that can measure the changes in geomagnetism, geoelectricity, crustal pressure. Abnormal readings in meteorological and astronomical stations are also valuable to predict quakes.

Di Qingguo’s theory on the correlation between droughts and earthquakes caught my attention. He postulates “One to three years before the strike of magnitude 6 or above earthquakes, the epicenter will suffer from droughts. The area of the drought is proportional to the magnitude of the earthquake. If the quake occurs in the third year after the drought, the magnitude will increase by 0.5 in comparison to the scale of the first year.”

His theory sounds very insightful if one correlates it to the severe drought that plagued Sichuan in 2007. The rise of ground temperature also occurred in 1973 Haicheng Earthquake “A part of the ice in a shade of a frozen reservoir melted during a very cold winter, and many snakes suicided on the frozen ground.” Di Qingguo’s studies are also used for the short-term prediction of quakes.

Thirdly, the population at large should be educated and informed about the earthquakes and its precursory phenomena. They should be encouraged to report the possible signs promptly once they notice something unusual. The lay watch stations set up by volunteers in Qinglong County greatly contributed to the success story of Qinglong county.

WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE HESITANT OR RELUCTANT TO ISSUE QUAKE PREDICTIONS?

No one can guarantee their predictions of earthquakes are accurate, and the consequences of a false alarm can be very severe. Despite all of the repercussions of an inaccurate prediction, it is a matter of responsibility and conscience down to the core.

Nobody explains this more amply than Ran Guangqi, the head of Qinglong County. When asked if he was under pressure to issue an earthquake alert, he replied:

I couldn’t sleep for several days, and I was greatly troubled. The warning has been issued and the most of 470,000 people of the county moved outdoor. The loudspeakers kept broadcasting the imminent quake. To tell you the truth, I have a family and a career. I could lose my position as a county leader if I alerted people; on the other hand, the lives of 470,000 people were at risk if I didn’t. The choice agonized me … But what if the quake does strike? I would be ashamed of myself for letting my people down, and have a guilty conscience in my entire life — even tough I may not admit it. I really like the two lines in a poem by Lin Zexu: “When the nation is in a crisis of life and death, how can I evade my duty due to personal gains and losses?”

Shall the public be informed about a possible strike?

It is impossible to predict earthquakes with %100 accuracy, and a false alarm can cause panic and disturbance in the public. so is it better to hide the information and let them die?

Informing the public about a possible disaster does not necessarily cause panic and disturbance in the public. Experts in public administration and disaster management should be consulted as to how to inform the public of the truth and avoid the possible panic. In fact, concealment of information from the public is more like to cause panic and the spawn rampant rumors.

Everybody knows he or she will die one day. Does it mean we all panic once we learn about our mortality?

The recent example during the outbreak of SARS in China 2003 better explains the importance of informing the public. China suffered heavy losses of life in the endemic, partly because the information of the disease was not released to the public promptly, and on some occasions, deliberately hidden from the public. At the beginning, the population had little knowledge about the virus and it spread quickly among the unprotected and unprepared people at large. The hard lesson was learned, and laws were later passed to ensure the immediate reporting and announcing on the occurrence of contagious diseases.

Seismologists should inform the public about the probability of an incoming earthquake, and necessary precautions and measures should be taken to minimize the damage.

The worst-case scenario is the prediction proved to be inaccurate and the normal social and economic lives were affected. However, no loss is comparable to the nightmare when an earthquake struck an unprepared population.

WHY THE EARTHQUAKE PREDICTION IS IMPORTANT IN CHINA

For the obvious reason that China is the most populous country in the world.

A Selective Biographical Chronicle of Bo Yang

Note: This chronicle is my selective translation of the material on a site created by Bo Yang’s major publisher.

  • 1920 Born.
  • 1933 age 14. Couldn’t get along with his step-mother, and went back to his hometown to attend the primary school. He met the teacher Ke Fei, to whom he was greatly indebted for developing his interest in reading. He met the evil math teacher Hong Wanzun.
  • 1935 age 16. Defied the headmaster and was expelled from the secondary school.
  • 1937 age 18. Beat his step-mother.
  • 1938 age 19. Joined the Nationalist Party and met the beloved teacher Wu Wenyi.
  • 1939 age 20. Married with Ai Shaohe. His father died at the age of 57.
  • 1942 age 23. First experience with Christianity in a bomb-shelter in an air-raid. Bought a counterfeit in-school certificate and was accepted into the Gansu Law College in Lanzhou.
  • 1943 age 24. Traveled the West Yellow River Corridor (Hexi) in Gansu Province. He was expelled from the college after his use of the fake school certificate was exposed. Fell in love with Cui Xiuying and lived with her.
  • 1946 age 27. Graduated from Northeast University in Santai majoring Political Science. Lost contact with Cui Xiuying in the civil war.
  • 1947 age 28. Became a timber merchant. He was permanently banned from school for using a fake diploma to get into Northeast University.
  • 1950 age 31. Sentenced six months into prison for listening to the radio broadcast of the communist party. He lost his job after the arrest. The actual term served was seven months.
  • 1959 age 40. Married with Ni Minghua.
  • 1968 age 49. When translating the comic strip Popeye the Sailor Man, he rendered the word “fellows” into “Dear Fellow Soldiers and Civilians” a speech opener frequently used by the dictator Chiang Kai-shek. This translation subsequently incurred him an imprisonment of ten years. On March 7, he was arrested for being “a communist spy” and “slandering the country leadership”. The death sentence he received was later commuted to a twelve year imprisonment. He made March 7 this new birthday, although the date on his arrest warrant was March 3.
  • 1969 age 50. On hearing his wife filed for divorce to end their ten year marriage, he fasted in the prison for twenty one days.
  • 1975 age 56. A national amnesty was granted after Chiang Kai-Shek died. The term of imprisonment for political prisoners were reduced by one third. Bo Yang’s was reduced to eight years.
  • 1976 age 57. After serving his eight year term in prison, he was still under house arrest on the island of the prison establishment.
  • 1977 age 58. Under the interference of the U.S., Bo Yang was released from the prison after spending nine years and twenty six days in prison. He returned to Taipei.
  • 1978 age 59. He married with poet Zhang Xianghua on Feburary 4.
  • 1984 age 65. From August to November, he joined a three month writing session for international writers in Idaho, United States. Started making speeches on The Ugly Chinaman.
  • 1985 age 66. The book The Ugly Chinaman was published. His modern Chinese translation and annotation of the history classic The Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government (Zi Zhi Tong Jian) was selected as the most valuable and best-selling book of the nation. The book The Schematic History of Chinese People was listed among top ten of the most influential books on China.
  • 1988 age 69. He and his wife visited the Mainland China.
  • 1996 age 77. The Memoir of Bo Yang was published by Ylib (Yuan-Liou).
  • 2008 age 89. Died on April 29 in Sindian City, Taiwan.

The Kang Bed in Northern Chinese Villages

1. What is it?

The Kang bed is a sleeping platform widely seen in the villages of Northern China. It is a rectangular construction built on the ground of the room, and is usually located by a window. As its other name—Fire Kang—suggests, it is mainly a heated bed, which is indispensable in the rural areas of China during winter.

2. What is it like?

Bricks or cheap fired clay are used to build the Kang. While the size varies, it provides enough sleeping space for a few people. The Kang generally consists of three parts: a stove for fuel, the bed itself, and a chimney. The heat from the stove is directed through flues under the bed and the smoke is released through the chimney. To capture as much heat as possible, the formation of the flues is very important. The flues can resemble a maze which allows for the maximum exposure of heat to the surface of the bed. Still, the area close to the stove is usually warmer, and becomes a reserved spot for elders.

3. Fuel sources

Wood, grass, coal, straw and corn cobs are common fuel sources for the Kang. Since bricks and fired clay take longer to heat up and cool down, fuel is burned in the stove a couple of hours before going to bed. When the Kang gets warm enough, it can take a whole night to cool down, providing enough warmth in the freezing winter.

4. Coverings

The surface of the Kang bed is fired clay and big straw matting is placed over it to lessen the heat and avoid the dirt. A thick quilt is the second layer of covering, followed by a cotton-padded blanket and a bed sheet.

The Kang table, a short-legged small table, is sometimes placed on the Kang bed. The table comes in handy for placing cups or food on it. Sometimes people eat their meals on the Kang table.

5. Other functions

The Kang bed is multifunctional. It can serve as a bed, floor, table and chair. Its stove can be used for cooking and boiling water for drinking tea. In many rural families, the Kang bed is the only source of heat and this makes it a great place for families to come together and talk, tell stories, or sing during the cold winter nights. It is quite common for parents to sleep on the same Kang bed with their children.

In some places, mourning services and marriage ceremonies are carried out on the Kang bed as well.

The Top Five Culture Shocks You are Likely to Encounter in China

The five culture shocks listed here are not meant to a slur on my fellow countryman, although regrettably, China does need to improve in some of the areas listed below.
Please keep two things in mind when reading this article: China is fast modernizing and many things will eventually get better; do not let these shocks prevent you from enjoying China.

1. Spitting

First-time visitors to China are too often shocked and disgusted by the widespread spitting. It is very common for you to hear loud throat-clearing or coughs, followed by spitting on the ground. Sometimes, a pedestrian will spit as you pass by, leaving you the impression that you are targeted.
Sad but true, spitting is a habitual practice among many Chinese. Culturally speaking, Chinese think that phlegm is dirty and full of germs, so it must be spit out. The polluted air in China is also to blame for the spitting, as it often leads to an uncomfortable feeling in the throat.

Don’t take spitting personally as if it were directed toward you. Fortunately, many Chinese now realize this and are gradually getting rid of this habit.

2. Public Restrooms

You have to be prepared for many shocks when you go to some public restrooms in China: lack of privacy, no toilet paper, no water soap, unflushed toilets, and the horrific smell. Despite all this, some public restrooms collect a small fee (less than a dime) for entering.
Unlike the toilet you normally know, a typical toilet in Chinese public restrooms is a “squat toilet“. You literally squat on an oval shaped porcelain pot built into the ground. Squatting can be physically demanding for people who are not used to this kind of toilet. Expect strained muscles on both legs after using this kind of toilet.
The safe bet is to use the restrooms at McDonald’s or KFC when you have to go. The good news is: the sanitary conditions of public restrooms are improving in China, especially in major tourist places.

3. Traffic

Unless you are a very experienced driver and prepared to be on constant and heightened alert, you don’t want to drive a car on the busy roads in China. In big cities, the traffic is very heavy, and numerous minor breaches of traffic regulations occur every moment. These breaches are either uncaught or simply taken for granted, and there are many rude drivers on the road.
The concept of Right-of-Way seems to be non-existent in China. The most followed rule, instead, is Right-of-Way belongs to whoever can get it. Pedestrians, who are the weakest in the jungle of vehicles, have the lowest Right-of-Way even at the crossing of the street. Unless there are traffic lights, cars often do not slow down, not to mention stop, to let pedestrians pass the crossing. As a result, jaywalking is also a common sight in China.

4. Air Pollution

The pollution soars with the economy of China. China’s economy is fueled to a great proportion by coal, and diesel oil is also widely used. In northern Chinese cities, coal is burnt for heating purposes in winter, and the fumes are emitted almost unchecked into the air. In those cities, it is quite common to see the surface of the cars coated with coal dust during winter.
Black carbon from exhaust pipes is another source of pollution. In major Chinese cities, people are so used to the hazy sky and smoggy air that a blue sky becomes a rarity. Beijing is endeavoring to turn its sky blue before Summer Olympics despite great difficulties.
After a couple of weeks in China, you will acclimate yourself to the air and the hazy sky. This is perhaps the easiest culture shock to get over.

5. Noisy eaters

Chinese do make a lot of noises when eating. But before we rush to the conclusion that making noises when eating is bad manners, let’s read what Dr. Lin Yutang has to say:

The Chinese have no prudery about food, or about eating it with gusto. When a Chinese drinks a mouthful of good soup he gives a hearty smack.

While admitting that the first four culture shocks mentioned above are areas where China needs to improve, I regard this one purely customary. Chinese prepare food differently and eat using chopsticks. Most Chinese do not take any notice to the noises of eating at table. When eating delicious noodles, you actually have the license to slurp.

Here are some tips about the Chinese table manners.

Confucianism Summed up in Three Hundred Words

This is a very concise summary of Confucius and his thoughts. This is not meant to be comprehensive, but the core ideas of Confucianism are presented here.

1. Who is Confucius?

A spiritual leader and teacher born 2500 years ago, Confucius is recognized as a culturally symbolic figure of Chinese thinking. He was the founder of the School of the Literati, but there is no record of his own writing. His teachings were preserved and compiled into Analects by his disciples. Confucius, which is the latinized form of his name, is known in China as Kong Zi.

2. The Core Tenets of Confucianism

Confucianism has two pillars in its teachings:

  • Family ethics Since parents give life to their children and raise them, the children are indebted to their parents and should treat the parents with submission and gratitude. The primary virtue of the children is to be obedient and to respect the absolute parental authority.
  • Political philosophy On the basis of its family ethnics, Confucius developed his political philosophy — the subjects owe absolute loyalty to the emperor; each one in the society should fulfill his or her duties associated with their social roles. In this way, an orderly society is created.

Confucius expected the ruler to “rule by moral force”, but he didn’t say what to do if the ruler chose to be immoral.

3. Its Influence on Chinese Society

His political philosophy was an important factor in maintaining an ultra-stable agricultural society in China. An ideal society is established, if everyone carries out the responsibilities designated by his social roles. This idea has been echoed by the Chinese government in its recent initiative to build a “harmonious society”.

His teachings on ethics shaped the Chinese national character. Members in both the family and the society are expected to treat each other with benevolence and civility. The idea of a gentleman, who should continuously pursue self-cultivation and self-elevation in order to serve his family and country, explains the emphasis on education in Chinese culture.

4. A Summary in Confucius’ Own Words

  • On government There is government, when the emperor is emperor, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son.
  • On social harmony What you do not desire for yourself, do not do to others.