Explain the concept and the importance of filial piety in China.Then compare it with American society – Essay Example
Filial Piety In MLS Style 2 Thesis Filial piety is generally a natural feeling of care, love, concern and natural respect to parents. It is an essential part of the Chinese culture and has embraced the three main religions in China: Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism. Although the monastic systems of the last two religions prevented their monks and nuns from being filial children, they support some of its doctrines. Thus, it is interpreted in different ways. This paper will discuss the relevance of filial piety to the Chinese culture and its differences from the American customs.
What is Filial Piety to Chinese Culture?
Filial piety in the Chinese culture doesn’t end with sincere concern, love and respect to parents but also extends to following their parents without questions, taking care of them during their elderly years and giving them proper burial when they pass away. These natural consciousness are not products of the Chinese Spirit but purely of human beings. One reason that filial piety is known to be a Chinese custom is their strict observance of the concept. It is deeply-rooted in their culture, although there are some religions like Buddhism and Daoism that only follow some of the doctrines enclosed in this tradition due to their monastic systems that inhibit them from being filial children. (Webster, 11) Confucianism, on the other hand, believes that it is an imperative moral conduct that led China to have it as their central ideology, which provides foundation to all other attitudes. (Ruggiero, 31) According to the famous Chinese quote,
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translated in English, “If one does not have piety towards their parents, then how can one be towards one’s friends, country or any other?” In Confucian teachings, it states that when your father is alive, observe his intentions because you will model yourself on the memory of his behavior when he dies and within the first 3 years after his death, you will be considered a filial child if you haven’t deviated from his ways. (Gardner, 54) According to Confucius, utmost respect to one’s father while he is alive is something that even animals do but in order to be a filial child, this respect should extend even after his death. Confucius further expounds the amount of respect he pertains to. This includes not offending one’s parents, not talking ill of them, protecting them whenever necessary; which entails being mindful of their age and not travelling far away from them if not necessary. (Gardner, 73)
Family has been a particularly integral substance of China. Integration of it is a primary starting point in achieving a well-balanced, controlled and a peaceful society. Chinese emphasize the relation between children and their parents, specifically underlining the love and respect to one’s parents. In this connection, filial piety is the basis of Chinese families. Thus, it is not a mere foundation of morality but a primary basis of the Chinese culture.
Filial Piety in America
In the American scene, filial piety doesn’t seem to be a dominant part of the culture, if not at all. Although it is a universal term, it is a phrase not too common for Americans. It can be vividly observed in the American culture that no such concept exists. Tracking back to the hippies’ era, Americans have been relentlessly devoted to the freedom of expression, which is exactly in contrast to the Chinese filial piety. They have been pronounced supporters of individualism that could stem further back to the colonial times. These resulted to American kids to know their
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rights and practice them early on by speaking out their opinions and reasoning out their ways to their parents. (Wong & Bagozzi, 79) Today, America is facing severe declines in morality and is giving all their might to resolve this issue. Could this be a direct result of their passion for individualism? America wouldn’t have been wit is today had it been for this ingredient. There are definitely pros and cons for everything and clearly, their issue in morality is a result of it. It is only a question of “Is it worth it?”
It is indeed that the concept of filial piety has been deeply rooted in Chinese culture that caused the controlled and balanced nature of the Chinese people, which is far different from Americans. But it cannot be said that their culture is much better than that of the American people since there are pros and cons in both customs. China’s strict observance of filial piety definitely produced good effects to their country; specifically to their families but it also inhibited them from going out of their comfort zones by following their culture blindly, following the footsteps of their father without questioning if it is right or wrong, creating an authoritarian living to its extreme. On the other hand, Americans’ individualistic attitude put them to their place today as a 1st world country, creating people who observe diversity and encouraging their people to think for themselves. Their morality has become a concern but is the Chinese interpretation of filial piety the cure? Is voicing out your opinion to your parents and practicing your rights a sign of disrespect? Too much of anything is not good – too much freedom and lack of one. I would say that I am in the middle of the road. We can practice our rights without disrespecting anyone and we can respect everyone while thinking what is right for us.
Ruggiero, Adriane. Confucianism. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Print
Webster, James. The Kan Ying Pien: Book of Rewards and Punishments. Taipei, 1971. Print.
Gardner, Daniel K. The Four Books: The Basic Teachings of the Later Confucian Tradition.
Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co, 2007. Print.
Wong, Nancy Y, and Richard P. Bagozzi. Filial Piety or Rugged Individualism?: Emotional
Intensity As a Reflection of Psychological Distance in the Peoples Republic of China and
America. Honolulu, Hawaiʻi: College of Business Administration, University of Hawaii
at Mānoa, 2000. Print.