Confucius Lives Next Door
The word Confucianism is commonly considered as a complicated mechanism of political, social, religious as well as moral beliefs that influences civilizations belonging to china, Hongkong, Northkorea Singapore Vietnam as well as south Korea among other east Africa countries. Confucianism can also be defined as a tradition, religion, or a lifestyle that people adopt and enact as their official way of living. The way of life is governed by several principles, beliefs, and traditions believed to be rationalistic. Confucianism was developed from the teachings of a philosopher of the Chinese origin known as Confucius. Confucius considered himself a vessel for transmission of the dynasty of Zhou. Confucianism developed as a result of Taoism and Buddhism. The Neo-Confucianism later reformulated the ideologies. The book Confucius Lives Next Door provides a platform for understanding how the country of Japan recovered from the devastating effect of the Second World War. The book also explains how the Japanese have to this day continuously strived for democracy and economic power against other nations. The book emphasizes on how Confucius teachings have influenced the cultures of the East Asian people. The teachings also revolve about the loyalty that people are subject to when they belong to certain groups and organizations.
Confucius lived in a time same as Buddha, however the followers saw him as a teachers of morals and a wise man. The primary goal of Confucianism is to attain inner harmony similar to nature that includes ancestor’s veneration. China, for instance, embraced Confucianism in their ruling classes but later it was abandoned. However, while some Chinese still practice the principles, today’s communist government resistance have caused Confucianism lose its impetus.
Confucianism had five basic principles. The first one was ren or what western tradition refer as empathy. The principle involves the ability to love others and recognize human dignity. The second belief is called junzi that refers to openness and honesty of a superior man. The third principle is li that outline how thing should be performed. It also teaches that life should strike a balance between two extremes. The fourth principle is the de that portrays the rulers virtue of honesty as well as goodness as they devote towards public welfare. The fifth principle was wen that dealt with cultures artistic side. This principle was instrumental for inspiration as well as moral education. The five principles were confucious program key points in Chinese tradition.
With reference to Reid 2013 observation, it is clear that diverse principles as well as beliefs existed in the Confucianism sphere. Moreover, Reid explains that every member belonging to a group should be responsible and avoid things that are unacceptable to the society that he/she lives in. Reid explains that unacceptable behaviors do not only ashamed the individual but the group as an extension of the individual. Reid also emphasizes that every member of a group should take the responsibility of preserving social responsibility, by advocating harmony and peace within the different groups. Achieving the social responsibility involve the avoidance of confrontations and achievement of consensus in the processes of decision making. A consensus was meant to prevent resentment in the governing process and to make everyone feel part of governing.
The Japanese strongly believe in the education aspect. The Confucius teachings, therefore, do not support the idea of rulers being pre-determined based on the family bloodline or dictatorship. The teachings emphasize that leaders should be chosen based on their governing fitness and their levels of education instead. The nation was, therefore, obligated to educate as many children as possible to nurture leaders and that could be as outstanding as possible (Reid). The Japanese also believe in the Confucian idea which it upholds bearing the belief that virtues and appropriate conduct were essential for the upbringing of every child.
The Japanese bear a belief that moral education is too broad a task to only be left in the hands of parents and instead education is considered to be a major role player to ensure morality in the society. The moral education of the Japanese is considered very significant to the point that even after school it continues being taught at events and ceremonies.
The strong academic backgrounds with extended learning periods make Japanese students outshine more of the western students in different tests standardized for grading. The Japanese schools are known to spend as much time teaching Confucian studies as the time they take to teach academics. Group and individual responsibility seem awkward to foreign observers; however, this leads to better group dynamics which improves both behavior and academic environment for the scholars. Individuality is greatly discouraged to the point that Reid uses a metaphor of a nail getting hammered down when it sticks up.
The Japanese employment policies based on the Confucian teachings advocate that employment should be a lifetime. This has however been seen to be true as most companies in Japan do not believe in the idea of laying down employees. The only layoffs observed are observed as the contract workers being cut off from the company but are however not considered as true employees of the businesses that they serve. This is well explained in the Secret Weapons chapter in the book.
The Japanese also uphold the individual sense of safety. The safety is attributed to the cultural beliefs and the Confucian teachings rather than on the number of police patrolling the streets in Japan. Confucius in his teachings explained that every individual was innate, of good behavior and that they would uphold these beliefs if they were given a deeper understanding that their behavior was good behavior was for the society as a whole. The Confucius idea has made Japanese residents not only safe but also fearless of insecurity in their cities.
The low criminal rates are not the only big difference between the western countries and the East Asian Culture. The Japanese believe in shorter sentences than the western thirty-five, fifty or even lifetime imprisonments. Reid claims that identification with a particular group of the society shames them when a criminal is identified among the group. The Confucius teachings in the Japanese people are not only based on ways of life but also the hierarchy of loyalty not only to the country but each other. This loyalty is evident from the family setups as despite the divorce processes being very easy to maneuver there are very few reported cases of single parents and divorce situations. The teachings based on Confucius foster unity and cohesiveness in the family as a whole leading to better societal backgrounds for most children.
Reid argues that East Asian culture based on the Confucius teachings are not any different from the Judeo-Christian morals that the western countries have been exposed to. The values of loving neighbors as we love ourselves, respecting for our parents, discouragement of lazy behaviors, are both agreed across the value systems for both Western countries and East Asian cultures. However, the difference between our western cultures and the East Asian cultures differ as despite having the same teachings the East Asians hold tighter to the moral values than we the Western countries. They have a belief system that advocates not only for adherence to moral values but to a total belief in existence as a group and not individuals.
Reid brings to light that moral values of the western countries eroded with time as a result of the different ways of governing, and the education systems that were put into place. Reid explains that the society had to allow moral degradation for it to take place. He argues that the people need to accept bad governance for bad governance to prosper in any country. However, even though the country was given a chance to adopt the value system of the Japanese people it would be quite impossible as the country has not yet had a situation significant enough to change their beliefs and value systems.
The Confucius teachings would be however important to bring back our torn world back into the state of sanity, with the Confucius beliefs in our society, we will no longer suffer from basic things that have totally disrupted our day to day lives. Confucius teachings would assist in eradicating issues like theft, societal moral evils and bad governments that prosper in acts of corruption and bad governance. The Confucius teaching if applied to our current societies would lead to improved moral standards for the community while at the same time promoting the need for academic excellence. The Confucius teachings would also transform leadership and reshape the choice of current leaders by changing the criteria and advocating for choices based on academic excellence and ability to lead and not by bloodline or inheritance.