On Wednesday, September 29, we pause to remember, honor, quote, and reflect on words and ideas of Chinese philosopher and teacher Confucius (551-479 BC). A cursory look convinced me that, assuming Confucius really did speak or write all those maxims, he was prescient, quotable and uniquely relevant to contemporary political discourse. The sage is credited with having taught his disciples that:
He who acts with a constant view to his own advantage will be much murmured against.
In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.
Though the Confucian quotes encompass every nuance of the human condition, these few convinced me to learn more about the man himself.
First and foremost, Confucius was a mere mortal, a man whose reputation has been embellished and distorted over time. He is credited and blamed – not to mention quoted – by countless zealots who probably go on to quote the Bible to prove their point…
Still, the sage is honored as the source of numerous Chinese classic tests. His pithy aphorisms have been compiled in The Analects and translated into every known language. His principles shaped Chinese tradition and beliefs that live on in 21st Century discourse on issues ranging form ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children, and the Golden Rule,
Minnesotans enjoy the privilege of hosting two Confucius Institutes, one at the University of Minnesota and one at St. Cloud State University related to Chinese culture, language, history and contemporary financial affairs.
* The Confucius Institute at St. Cloud State University (http://www.stcloudstate.edu/confucius/default.aspx)
Confucius Day will likely be on the minds of students, families and corporations involved with the Chinese American Association of Minnesota (CAMM). Chinese language readers can learn more here – http://www.caam.org/.
Needless say, resources by and about Confucius are both robust and immensely controversial. Confucius Day 2016 comes at a time when we all could benefit from the wisdom and tenor of this prolific sage from ancient times. Assuming you have time on Confucius Day to reflect on just one Confucian aphorism, ponder this simple but abiding truth:
Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace