Confucius’ Moral Critique of the American Society
Confucius’ Moral Critique of the American Society
If Confucius were still alive and were to visit America, he would immediately get booked for the earliest flight back to China - Confucius’ Moral Critique of the American Society introduction. The American society and the ideology of Confucianism have many contradictions. Although, the American society might have a handful of practices and beliefs that Confucius might consider. If Confucius would criticize the morality of the American society, this society is bound for a lot of criticisms. Confucius is known for being the author of a complex system of moral, philosophical, political, social, and quasi-religious codes. These complex set of codes is where the religion of Confucianism is based upon. On the other hand, the kind of society that America has right now is notorious for being short of moral standards. If we are to employ the teachings of Confucius to the context of the present American society, many time and relevant criticisms will be surfaced.
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With America’s super strong economy, Confucius would immediately notice its effect on the nation’s morality. What he could have immediately noticed is the developed arrogance of Americans from being members of the world’s most developed economy. It would also be apparent that Americans would appear as spendthrifts just because their strong economy permits them. But what would be the most noticeable among these effects is that despite of the abundance in terms of wealth, many well-off Americans are still in discontent. Confucius had explicitly expressed his opinions regarding wealth, profit, materialism, and other concepts that go along the context.
Here is the line that Confucius had said himself “the gentleman [the good] understands rightness, whereas [the bad] the petty person understands profit” (Confucius 12) Again, with America’s super strong economy, there are a lot of enterprising individuals within the nation. Most Americans, if not businessmen and businesswomen, are employees, both groups are fixated on the concept of making profits. There are even some businessmen/women and employees who worship their businesses, stocks, jobs, and profit more than the pious devote themselves to a legitimate religion. For Confucius, this is the reason why the American society has many members who live unhappy lives that are full of conflicts with other people.
Confucius had expressed this idea through this line “if you wish to obtain profit for yourself you will inevitably harm other people and thereby arouse much resentment from them” (Confucius 41) That line could also describe how the American society practices the exact opposite of the ideology of communism. Since most American folks are fixated on making profit, they don’t care anymore about the people that they may offend during the course of their pursuit of profits. It is like they are so fixated that they don’t care anymore for no one except for their each and every self.
The kind of governance that the American society has will also receive much scrutiny from Confucius. Nowadays, (like always) the American government gets entangled in internal and international disputes. In some of these cases, the American government exercises its dominance in the field of combat warfare. It is a common notion that a government needs to provide its constituents food, trust, and weapons (or protection). For Confucius, the weapons and the foods are not of primary importance—it is the trust that a government really needs. He is clearly stating that a government won’t function smoothly without a solid trusting relationship between the government and its constituents. Politicians are regarded as cunning tricksters in America. The trust rate is decreasing and decreasing term after term. Confucius had provided a reason for that “a gentleman only imposes labors upon his people only after earning their trust” (Confucius 224) What is happening in America is that the politicians are don’t get their hands dirtied in social issues, only the people themselves are left to solve the problems for themselves. Many Americans are starving in the streets while these politicians are having a fancy party somewhere undisclosed just like Area 51.
The American society is also notorious for the prevalent and seeming irresolvable problem of racism. Confucius would also have a big problem with this issue. He had expressed his thoughts on this sensitive topic through his teachings. He said that all humans are as good as siblings (Confucius 34). With that said, there should be no distinctions between individuals. The American society already know that racism is never good, but still, being thick-headed, narrow-minded, and cold-hearted offenses regarding the issue of race is still prevalent.
Confucius is presumably a health enthusiast. This assumption could be traced when he said the line “it is only the state of physical health that is something beyond one’s ability to control of predict and therefore worth worrying about” (Confucius 10) Although the American society can be also considered a health enthusiast, all the efforts towards good health are just direct results of the many unhealthy habits Americans have. “Fast foods” are now a staple in the diet of Americans, the primary reason why there is a rising number of unhealthy Americans. There are also lots of vices present in the American society—there are even new vices that are springing up, an example of these is the drug called MET.
In the case of the children within the American society, Confucius would just constantly shake his head due to much disappointment. It is not anymore the parents that do the upbringing of their child these days. Most children nowadays spend more time in front of the television rather than spending some quality time with friends and families. Confucius doesn’t have to be the great thinker that he already is to see the negative impacts of over exposure of children to television. The television industry is full of bad influences like celebrities who can’t drive safely, athletes that can’t even spell, rock stars that explicitly expresses their dependency on drugs and alcohol abuse. Although cartoons are seemingly innocent in terms of negative effects on children, some cartoons are not even healthy for the minds of the children. Some cartoons become a mouthpiece for violence and at times even pornography.
It seems that Confucius would disapprove of everything that the American society is built upon. But still, there are some aspects of the American society that Confucius can consider. Confucius maybe entertained by the fascination of Americans to the Asian culture—that is if he wouldn’t be offended because this fascination could be considered as over exoticism of the Asian culture. Aside from having Chinatowns, Americans seem to take delight in Chinese foods. There are lots of famous celebrities that are sort of checking out every Asian religion, including Confucianism. Confucius may be surprised by the number of Americans that are abiding by his teachings.
All in all, Confucius would definitely disapprove of the practices of the American society even from the start. That is because there is a cultural barrier existing between Confucius and the Americans. The things that Confucius had disapproved in this paper don’t necessarily mean that they are wrong or immoral. These are the culture of the Americans and these are what they view as right. Moreover, the formulation of the teachings of Confucius is based upon his observation of his homeland. The setting and context is definitely hard to muster especially between two varying societies, the conservative thinking of the Chinese society and the liberated mentality of the Americans.
Confucius. The Essential Analects: Selected Passages With Traditional Commentary
(Slingerland trans.) Cambridge: Hackett Publishing. 2006