What We Can Possibly Learn Today From The Philosophy of Confucius
In today’s world especially with the international tensions escalating, we should look back on Confucius’ teachings. As a teenager, I had no care in the world about politics, voting, society, and all that jazz. But when I watch today’s news, I see that it is a neccessity to care about those subjects now more than ever. There’s pretty much a lack of humanism in the world today.
"Humanism" is defined as an umbrella term of philosophies that affirm that nobody is "worthless." Humanism affirms the worth and dignity of all people. There are many variants of humanism. Confucius’ teachings of humanism have been the root of most of the East Asian philosophies towards life. Confucius wanted to unify the world let alone China. He wanted rulers to be chosen on their own merits and not whom they were born from. He wanted rulers that would devote themselves to the people, not the rich and powerful. Confucius hoped that those rulers would set the example and spread their virtures to the people and other parts of the world instead of oppressing the people.
Confucius had the right idea. Especially with what’s going on today. The "Golden Rule" of "treating others the way you want to be treated" came from Confucius. But there seems to be a strong lack of the applications of the Golden Rule. Within the last few years, that rule has been broken on several accounts.
One prime example in the United States was in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina a category five hurricane struck Louisiana and Mississippi. That incident had shown the world on a massive scale the displacement of the "upper" class and the "lower" class. The media was one of the biggest perpetrators of breaking the Golden Rule. For ratings, they filmed mainly Black citizens looting stores like Walmart and other things. Most of population of New Orleans are predominantly Black(African-American, Haitian, Creole, etc) and the media portrayed them as rogues and bandits. It seemed the media portrayed the citizens of New Orleans to be less than human. The media didn’t bother to go in-depth on the reasons the citizens were looting stores. There’s also the terrible response time on the government’s part that needs to be factored in as well on the local, state, and federal level.
Also the media focused more on New Orleans than other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. Keep in mind there’s also a huge Vietnamese population in the Southeast United States primary places like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri. But the media put way more coverage on the citizens whom are Black rather than the Asians. During one interview on the "Henry Rollins Show" when it used to be "Henry’s Film Corner" they talked about Kanye West’s outburst during a televised fundraiser talking about how Bush does not care about Black people. He was partially right. Rollins and the other person talked about how Bush doesn’t care about "poor" people.
What we can learn from Confucius is that everybody deserves the equal amount of treatment whether you’re rich, poor, Black, White, Asian, etc. The Golden Rule was definitely lacking in that department. Lot of politicians ended up losing office because of the failure to respond. That was something that Confucius had intended that if the politicians aren’t doing their jobs that they shouldn’t be in office. Apparently, the politicians weren’t there for the people.
The most known examples are driven by either hate and/or revenge. There seems to be a lot of that going on within the Middle East primarily in Iraq. Under Saddam’s regime the Shiite Muslims were oppressed by the Sunnis. When the United States entered and took power away from Saddam, they failed to sit both the Sunnis and Shiite’s together. Now we have constant bloodshed between the Sunnis and Shiite’s. The Shiite’s were driven by revenge and formed hit squads to take out Sunni Muslims and vice-versa. Instead of spreading virtues like they should’ve been doing since removing Saddam from power, hatred spread in its place and the thought of civil war is almost inevitable. Instead of a unified Iraq, the country is now divided with United States and Coalition troops in the crossfire.
Confucius believed that there should be no distinction of classes. But now we see people getting treated like garbage, getting persecuted, and possibly killed because they belong to another tribe, another group, another religion, etc. Also we need to focus more on the merits of people rather who their parents are and where they come from. We can learn a lot from Confucius teachings. We need to apply those teachings in today’s life and society more than ever.
At first, get involved with your family on a smaller level. Confucius taught his disciples that family is extremely important because it represents society in miniature. First off, get involved with family activities. In you’re a student, get involved with school activities. Doesn’t matter how or what you’re active in, just get active. That’s the first step on how we can look back onto Confucius’ teachings. If they’re an election coming up and you’re old enough to vote, go out and vote. However, don’t go straight up and vote. Do extensive research on the candidates and what they stand for. Do not vote for a candidate just because s/he is Democrat, Republican, Green, etc. Voting down the line tends to cause problems.
If they have voting for amendments and certain laws, do research on the merits they carry. People should excel because of their merits not because of their lineage. Lineage doesn’t neccessarily mean they’ll be good politicians and leaders. Take a good look at how the government is run today. We need people in office by their merits. Though personality is a huge plus. Personality goes a long way in the working world.
The other important thing we need to apply from Confucius is reciprocity which is the Golden Rule. We need to treat others with respect. Respect goes both ways. If you do not show a person any respect, chances are that the same person will not show you any respect. The Golden Rule is about one of the most valuable "treasures" that Confucius could’ve passed onto future generations. Though the past does not predict the outcome to the future, but we can learn from the past and not make the same mistakes.
Also another thing we can learn from Confucius’ teachings is that we cannot run away from society and politics. Politics runs our very lives. Like it or not, politics is here to stay. You can choose to get involved or not get involved, the outcome will still be the same, politics will dictate how you can live your lives.
Looking at some of Confucius’ most notable teachings should help quell today’s problems if not completely eliminate them. I think it’s safe to say that Confucius’ intentions were for the people to get active in government and help each other out when problems arise and to counteract future problems and conflicts. We can definitely need more learning and understanding.