Leave Confucius alone

10:07, February 02, 2010      

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The blockbuster Confucius has not received the expected public praise since its release earlier this month. It's criticized as kind of boring and lacking historical truth. But I think the real reason for its no-so-good comments are Confucius and his theories, along with a movie about them, aren't suitable for today's China.

However, modern China has started to worship Confucius and his Confucianism as the key element of Sinology in recent years and the movie is just another example. Experts suggested adding as many Confucianism as possible into school curriculum, and some people even opened private schools to teach children those theories. In Confucius's birthplace, Qufu in Shandong province, the local government began to officially support the annual activity to worship Confucius from 2007. It’s ridiculous to watch several provincial-level officials wearing suits and ties standing in line with those event-service staff who are in traditional Han costumes.

How was the view of Confucianism worship generated in the first place? I think it's possibly because some so-called experts believe that China is so deeply influenced by western cultures, so our nation needs one theory to get back to the roots of our civilization and prove our patriotism. However, what they don't understand is that those theories of Confucianism can absolutely not be the prominent part of Sinology or the representative of traditional Chinese culture.

Essentially, Confucianism was generated to serve feudalism rulers. It advocated the power-based doctrine, regulated the order of a rank society by indicating the divine right of emperors. It also orientated human’s social values and set social behaviors, which required people to be docile. Therefore, Confucianism began to be framed by subsequent rulers down the centuries to shackle people’s thoughts. From Emperor Wu in Han dynasty, China started to officially worship Confucianism alone, which caused Chinese people to follow all orders of superiors.

While some may argue that certain ethical theories of Confucianism are good for moral standard enhancement, such as when I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. I admit that these phrases themselves are not bad, otherwise how can they last for thousands of years and be used to fool people to follow Confucianism? They are simply prettified the power-based system based on the doctrine of a rank society. So no matter how nice these certain phrases are, they cannot cover up the core theory they serve for.

But even though Confucianism and Confucius are still not officially labeled to represent Sinology and traditional Chinese culture, some have started to bluster about folks who don’t worship as a "symbol" of those who don’t love China. A serious accusation, isn't it?

Maybe because of China's pathetic history, Chinese people are more sensitive and emotional towards issues involving patriotism. Yet certain experts may abuse their passions. For example, many people were agitated by experts to believe that the opening of a Starbucks in the Forbidden City was a kind of cultural invasion. But Can you say a state-funded noodle restaurant opened to replace the coffee shop is symbol of patriotism?

Not all Chinese old things can be used everywhere at anytime, so does Confucianism. Leave Confucius alone. Don’t link him and his theory worship to patriotism. Correct patriotic behavior is to embrace all favorable elements of others, rather than rest on our laurels in the name of the sage.

By Zhang Xi (chinadaily.com.cn)
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