Happy 2561st Birthday!
Today, the 28th of September, was Confucius's Birthday. He's probably one of the most well-known Chinese people despite being born in 551 BC. So much is his influence, wise words of any kind are normally heard prefixed with the words 'Confucius say...' (normally in a horrendously bad Chinese accent). As I am indeed a Chinese person, albeit when I don't open my mouth, I feel like it is justified for me to provide at least one wise quote from the man himself:
"The superior person is modest in their speech, but exceeds in their actions"
孔子 (Kong zi) as he is known in China, developed a system of philosophy known as 'Confucianism' which emphasised elements of both personal and governmental/collective morality and has had a big influence not just in China but in many parts of the Sinosphere. Although temporarily disowned during the turbulent years of the 50s and 60s for being feudalist, Confucius has seen a revival in modern times and indeed, a milestone this year was seen with the first service held in Beijing's Confucian temple since the Communists came to power in 1949.
For all the materialistic wealth that has been acrued from China's thumping economic growth, there are some in China who are perhaps looking into a past in search of fixity in the form of values; values which some believe to be lost in the ever-changing dynamics of modern China. Indeed whether it is with regards to familial ties, societal responsibility or even stewardship of the environment, I believe Confucianism still offers a lot for China to learn from.
I had wanted to go to Qi Fu, the hometown of Confucius, on his birthday seeing as it's in Shangdong province (alas today was a teaching day). In fact, one of the things that drew me to Shangdong to teach was that I thought it would be apt to start my teaching career in the province which provided, some call, the 'first teacher'. Indeed, the vocation most linked to Confucian ideals are teachers. Interestingly enough, during a totally (non-)scientific canvas of opinions in the staff room, few teachers could name what day it was today. However when teaching my students later on, they answered my question straight away. I'm thinking Confucius will be around, and as relevant as ever, for many years to come.
"What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others"