The value system of countries differs from one another regarding education system, art, lifestyle, choice of rulers, beliefs and traditions. The values also change from time to time within the same country. The change is not fast, may last hundreds of years. China is one of the countries that has many reflections coming from the ancient time-Confıcuısm.
Confucianism was the primary tradition in Chinese history, effecting values, education, society and government for 2000 years. Modern Chinese culture is best understood by examining Conficıous (552-479 BC) as this person and his teachings have a great impact on the values of Chinese culture today. Confucianism is a system which emphasizes filial piety, kinship, loyalty and righteousness. This belief system has a wide spectrum from proper inidvidual behavior to government ruler.There are prescribed roles, relationships are interdependent. Rank order is recognized, lower level obeys to higher level. Autrority and age are respected. Modern China today has still signs of Confucianism in many ways. Let’s examine the similarities.
In Confucism, moral development stems from the traditonal roles regarding interdependent relationships.We see the relationships between ruler and minister, father and son, elder brother and younger brother, husband and wife and friend and friend. Though modern China has moved ahead, the Chinese today are still thinking in terms of hierarchy. They tend to respect hierarchy and differences in status much more than people in Western cultures..In American culture treating everyone with equal respect is valuable, people’s status is not emphasized. For instance, it is acceptable that General Manager chats with his assistant or calls his employees with their first names. On the other hand, Chinese culture will not let this happen. We see the effects of Confıcuısm here.
Confucian society, you’re supposed to act according to your rank… and not necessarily by how you feel. Although Individual expression is encouraged from an early age in Western cultures, we observe the opposite in Chinese culture. Individual exists by his relationship to the group. Collectivism is crucial in a Confucian society where people are responsible their families, then community, clan, and community.
One of the important values of Chinese tradition is Filial piety. It means appreciation to one’s parents for giving one life. It means unconditional love and respect for parents and total obedience to one’s parents. It also means to appreciate and give honour to the parents after their death. Chinese families believed that by teaching children filial piety, they would teach them proper moral education. In China, people believed that children should be brought up as responsible and moral adults.Confuciansim states that filial piety is crucial for the good conduct and without filial piety, children will be rebellious, dishonest and undisciplined.In Confcionism, respect for authority is important. Hierarchy is recognized and children are taught from young ages to respect and obey the the father, then they would transfer this obedience to learn how to respect and obey society’s rules and regulations. Unfortunately, after the May Fourth Movement, many intellectuals such as Xin Qin-Nian and Lu Xun, Wu Yu and Hu Shi criticized the concept of filial piety. They srongly believed that it would kill the originality and creativity. People would not think unigue and opinions, they thought that this would stop China to modernize. During the Cultural Revolution, students were taught to study the Marxist-Leninist classics, instead of Chinese Classics. Children were taught that they should love Mao more than their own parents.
In Confucian systems, showing respect to higher ranked person, helps children to become obedient to family, and when they are grown up, they would become obedient to their state.Family is the primary unit in Chinese culture, to have peace in the family is highly recognized. Chinese culture nowadays has the same values that are highly recognized. Confuciunism’s core beliefs are kindness, truthfulnes and selflessnes. Similarly, if we travel to China we will observe and meet many kind and honest Chinese people.
In addition, through modernization of China and the “Open-Door Policy” in the 1980’s, young people in China were exposed to Western world through various media such as literature, television, publications and music , although the concept of filial piety remained a central theme in Chinese culture, filial piety is gradually diminishing in the culture. From a Western perspective, the Confucian concept of filial piety is seen as threat for freedom. Therefore, Chinese youth may be seeking to adopt the Western value system, which contrasts with the Confucian value system.
Lastly, generousness, truthful, kindness, selflessness and respectfullness still remain to be the prevailing values of modern China, differing from the other nations and still tying to the traditions strongly.