Confucius in the eyes of Westerners

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, November 16, 2009
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To the American old lady, Confucius is more like a symbol.

"Confucius says, a boy, a girl and moonlight make wedding bells ring out in month of May," said 91-year-old Eunice Brock.

In fact, the sentence was not from Confucius, but another way of saying that moonlight can inspire romantic feelings.

"There was a period when it was very popular to invent brief statements as sayings of Confucius in the United States," Brock said.

To many foreigners, the understanding to Confucius was just limited to his name or maybe the adage chanted at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, though, the Chinese ancient wise man was definitely one of the greatest philosopher in the world.

On October 28, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to honor the 2,650th anniversary of Confucius' birth.

"Although the bill was symbolic, it reflected the American politicians' respect to Chinese culture," said Guy Alitto, associate professor in the University of Chicago.

According to the professor, some representatives including those who had always been against symbolic bills, voted for commemoration.

Alitto pointed out that Confucius was still neglected by most people in the world, although "Confucius says" had already become a common phrase in English.

But Brock, who settled down in Liaocheng of east China's Shandong province, was a fan of Confucius and the Confucian Analects.

"I admire the character of Confucius because he dedicated his life unselfishly to the welfare of his people," she said.

The most impressive part to Brock was Confucius' desire to abolish war, which she believed, set China on a very different historical past from the Western world.

"The Great Wall is a symbol of peace as it was an attempt to prevent warring tribes from entering China necessitating war in defense of China," she said. "I wish every visitor to the Great Wall was given a pamphlet explaining how Confucius wanted China to be a peaceful country."

The old lady had travelled in China among various ethnic groups.

"It seems to me there is far less prejudice in China than in America where there is still much prejudice against blacks, Mexicans and others," she added. "Confucius taught that ethnic people should be respected and their differences valued."

"We are now in the information age and great changes will occur. War must be abolished if mankind is to survive and other changes made to preserve our planet," Brock concluded.

James Kong couldn't speak much Chinese and his appearance was a typical Westerner. A fan of Manchester United, the 16-year-old from Great Britain was the 79th generation descendant of Confucius with a Chinese name Kong Chuixu.

"I'm not sure if this is because of my connection with Confucius...I feel very close to him," said the boy.

"I instinctively feel that a lot of Confucius' ideas were correct and I can't help wanting to communicate these ideas to others so that they can benefit too."

Zhang Yiwu, a professor from the Chinese literature department of the Beijing University, said that the thoughts of Confucius should be further spread in the world.

"On the one hand, Confucianism should be promoted among top leaders to help them draft policies. On the other hand, it should be popularized among ordinary people," said the professor.

"After all, the ordinary people had more impact on the society."

This was shared by James Kong.

"The modern world is full of difficulties very different from those experienced at Confucius' time, but at the same time human nature remains the same. Therefore Confucius' suggestions as to how to behave in many situations still apply today," he said.

He had been back to Qufu of Shandong, Confucius' birth place, many times and had taken part in the Confucius birthday ceremony, the grave sweeping and the family tree ceremony.

"When I am there I think of Confucius and all the family members who have gone before. I want to do my best to make my family proud of me too," said the boy.

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