While your kids read Harry Potter this summer, Chinese kids are likely learning a system of ideas, ethics, family values and societal order.
By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 24, 2007
Question: How do you change the hearts, minds, culture and actions of 1.3 billion people?
Answer: Very slowly, Grasshopper.
China has a problem dealing with the west. Simply put, the average Chinese businessman, factory supervisor, factory worker and vendor has one goal in mind: making money. You might say, “That is true of everyone in business all over the world.” True enough; but the Chinese person is a lot less likely to be governed or even slightly influenced by any culture of honesty, integrity, or tendency toward obeying laws or norms.
What’s the proof? The Chinese can tell you themselves.
The communist government of the People’s Republic of China is again fostering the teachings of Confucius. Confucianism was the moral and social code of the Chinese people for centuries until the Cultural Revolution and the advent of the PRC made Confucianism taboo. The “Red Chinese” pushed people away from Confucianism and toward the teachings of the state.
The ship of state lost its moral rudder.
There is no “state religion” in the United States, where we proudly and dearly adhere to a separation of church and state. Yet religion is widespread and permeates much of the fabric of our society.
Most western democracies have no “state religion,” even though religion is pervasive.
But in the People’s Hall’s in Beijing, leaders are discussing the notion of a “state religion.”
You know why? What they have, which is no religion, no ethics, and no moral code, isn’t working.
Conspicuous consumption is not a religion. Putting anti-freeze into toothpaste to save money is not a religion. Killing American pets with tainted pet food is not a religion. And poisoning scores of people in Panama with tainted cough syrup is not a religion.
Not only that, it is bad for business.
So there is a resurgence in at least one old familiar system that would be acceptable to China’s leadership: Confucianism.
While your kids are reading about Harry Potter and his wizardry and sorcerythis summer, Chinese kids are reading about a system of ideas, a way to live a better life and an operating system for the family and the society.
Most people in the west waste their time gamely and gladly. They already have everything money can buy, they have good jobs and lots of toys and time to kill.
I’m not saying the Chinese system is better but it might be enlightening to discover that the Chinese, seeing rampant greed and a social ethic that promotes corruption, are at least grabbing at straws on how to put the train of their society back on the tracks.
There is no Paris Hilton in China, though there are beautiful models and delightful actresses. There is no Michael Vick though there are revered sports athletes. China’s communists system always seems to have one foot on the break: unlike the full throttle party in the west.
Today, Confucianism is in a revival, and partly because the leaders in China realize that as China’s economy has grown and become global, corruption and greed have become the dominant “religion” of many people.
This is rubbing the west the wrong way.
I can remember buying pirated (illegally copied) expensive books in China in the 1970s. Books like the famous Oxford English Dictionary (OED), a tome that would cost hundreds of dollars in London, sold for just a few measly bucks in China. As I student I wanted reference books (this was before the internet, kids) and there was no place where reference books were less expensive than China. That was because the Chinese cared nothing for copyright laws or other such niceties.
Today, the U.S. is still deadlocked with China in bitter negotiations over Intellectual Property Rights (protections for books, movies, computer software, and etc.).
Today The Washington Post ran an article discussing the revival of Confucianism in China and this is no small matter. Some in the west have taken the ostrich approach to Chinese dishonest and trickery.
But the global economy cannot possibly succeed unless nations, their businesses, manufacturers and vendors play by rules.
Almost any rules of proper business behavior would be preferred over what we have from China now: poisoned toys, toothpaste, and cough syrup.
The Washington Post:
China: Trying to Fight ‘Culture of Corruption’ with Confucius
Our Detailing of “The Culture of Corruption”
China: Culture of Corruption a Problem
Why Beijing Worries About its Own People: They Sometimes Do Not Obey, Behave:
Why we don’t like Harry Potter much:
What Americans might be reading this summer:
Our Nation: Based Upon God, Not Fiction
Last year in China, Beijing Normal University Professor Yu Dan wrote a series of lectures called “The Analects of Confucius.” This turned into a $3.00 book on Conficianism, which sold 4 million copies, more than double the sales of the previous bestseller, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”