Our current-day penchant for and tolerance of bad behavior and manners is not confined to our American shores.  According to an article in the New York Times, older generations in Korea are noting this same behavioral trend amongst their younger population, much to their consternation.  While the Korean economy has made great strides in recent decades, many citizens observe a general decline in morality—standards that also engendered strength and resilience, in times past, when the chips were down.  To ameliorate this condition, many parents are sending their children to camps for Confucian learning, which emphasizes respect and etiquette—lessons which many have considered too “old fashioned” in these modern economic times, that is, until recently.

Confucius, a Chinese philosopher and social thinker who lived from 551 to 479 B.C., exhorted virtue and morality as a basis for achieving harmony, to be embraced within daily life in the home as well as the state.  Loyalty and respect for one’s elders were revered tenets.  Given that he lived in a different time and culture, some of his teachings may not be entirely relevant today, particularly as he more than hinted that wives should obey their husbands.  Nonetheless, I decided to take a look at some of Confucius’s words to see how they might be applicable today

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” The Golden Rule, perfectly stated.

“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” Wayne Dyer might translate this as ‘you are what you think.’

“To see the right and not to do it is cowardice.”  Do not be a bystander to bullying or harmful acts to others; whistle-blowers, start your engines!

“He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”  It appears that being a ‘know-it-all’ has never been a popular stance.  

“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”  Learning to forgive can free your soul.

“Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”  Humankind always has an opportunity to rise to a higher order.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”  Resilience is one of life’s greatest tools.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”  Goalscoupled with the fortitude to achieve them—increase one’s likelihood of success.

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”  Sometimes self-control and restraint can be a really good thing.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  We do this—especially in regards to sex.

“If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”  When will we ever learn?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Wow, was Confucius really the first person to say this?  He really was smart!

As it turns out, Confucius was a pretty wise old bird in that his sage counsel and common sense principles hold as true today as 2,500 years ago.  And while the above are a mere sampling of messages he left behind, we continue to benefit from the wisdom of this venerated teacher, how morality and virtue are not only important, but help to create harmony in our lives; respect, generosity, and kindness are essential. “Consideration for others is the basis of a good life, a good society,” is a pretty good summation of that philosophy, which is why young Koreans are now returning to Confucian learning.  Do you think it would be a good idea to open one of those academies in America?







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