Jacquelyn N. Jackson
November 11, 2011
CHIS 201 Wise: USA, Africa and the World I
Ancient China: It Takes Structure to Uphold a Community
From the beginning of 600 B.C.E to 300 B.C.E, China was on the path of destruction and well on its way to recreation. It was between these approximate times periods admirable philosophers were in the mist of conceiving principles that would fabricate China into its present form. With such chaos being conveyed, there were only few who went amongst the people in hope for a resolution to reconcile the Chinese world. Amongst those who sought to guide their civilization to the image of a utopia was a widely known philosopher named Confucius. He thrived from ca. 551 B.C.E to ca. 479 B.C.E. From his time, Confucius gained many followers who were enlightened by his teachings. Confucius stressed that he was not attempting to assume government position, nor become a leader; he was simply a philosopher who had higher ambitions of helping rebuild his fallen lands. All hope had seemed to be lost during the reign of the Warring Era, resulting in many deaths, poverty and taxation. As the Warring Era began to reach its closure, the solution of the problem seemed to end with Confucianism. Confucianism has continued to thrive in ancient China creating many impressionable marks through the principles preached with value. Confucianism was described as a philosophy that held together traditional aspects, highlighting the facts of history and keeping customs intact with ancient China, mainly through the reinforcement of structure.
Confucianism emerged during the period of the Warring States Era when the Shang dynasty was in power. This philosophy concentrates on the importance of respect, structure, the Mandate from Heaven, the government ruling without an iron fist, or trying to force upon unneeded situations, and emphasized the importance of knowing history. “Confucius was concerned more with the cultivation of social harmony than with the machinations of power.” Confucianism proclaimed that the unlawful leadership is the reason behind the beginning of the Warring States. Believing in the Mandate, with no questions asked and pulling together to become more stern and strong with a conservative outlook was the solution Confucianism preached. Yet, this illustrious philosophy was not the only reform created as a resolution. Legalism, a stricter form of power, went against Confucianism and ultimately won over as the abiding law of China. Though Legalism was the key principle that China’s evolving civilization abided by Confucianism continues to flourish through China’s civilization bringing about the thought of this practice being a more favorable project of reconstruction within the civilization.
The principle Confucius held highly with the thought that will help insure China’s recreation was structure. Structure played a key role in many aspects of life. Whether in or a household or within the community, the pyramid insisted was set as a guiding tool for success. Inside the house, a husband would tend to his deeds as in working and providing for the family. He would go amongst civilization trying to make an honest living and create a title for him and his family. The woman would tend to her husband and the children, nurturing her family and making sure everyone is tended to with a hot meal every day, clean clothes, proper grooming and always being welcomed to a clean home. The children would obey and respect mother and father and as a whole, the family would honor elders and those wiser. “Ministers will serve their lords with benevolence and justice; sons will serve their fathers with benevolence and justice; younger brothers will serve their elder brothers with benevolence and justice; so that ruler and minister, father and son, elder and younger brother will expel thoughts of profit and harbor benevolence and justice and draw close together.”  With this method in place it was thought that no havoc would commence and everyone would stay in their rightful occupation.
Outside of the household, the rules of structure were still expected to be exemplified through each citizen. The most important people whom were held upon a pedestal were China’s elders and those who were described as enlightened during Confucianism’s reign. The people respected their elders and cherished their presence during and after life. They were here long before those younger than them and have gained a vast amount of wisdom and have grown as a person. These highly respected citizens were people who the Chinese civilization looked up to for guidance and lessons on life. “The Master said, at fifteen I set my mind on learning; by thirty I had found my footing; at forty I was free of perplexities; by fifty I understood the will of Heaven; by sixty I learned to give ear to others; by seventy I could follow my hearts desires without overstepping the line.” The elders were respected by all, wealthy and poor. After the elders, the structure of society went from the gentry to the peasants to the merchants. If the people were unhappy with their place in the society, it was their task to bring forth their selves and family to the position they wished to be known for.
Containing social stratification (structure) kept every simple and complex task tended to. Whether it was being a simple farmer who grew the crops that went upon each plate for daily meals or a warrior for the Emperor who received medals of honor, each task looked upon was seen as mediocre or of great importance, but behind the façade the task are life changing. Each person’s work was useful and kept balance in the Chinese civilization. If everyone was seen as equals, the world could possibly become corrupt from the disagreement of class order. No-one ever chooses where they are settled at in life, but there are chances for each individual to make a difference and give their selves the proper title insisted, though a title is only a name given and does not have a true definition of self character. “A virtuous plebian who cultivates his qualities can be a gentleman, while a shameless son of a king is only a small man.”
In summation, during the warring states in China, 600 B.C.E to 300 B.C.E, the practice of Confucianism brought together the Chinese civilization with the teachings of orderly structure/social stratification within the community and family implementing unity. These actions not only made a great influence upon China, making them stronger than once before and sure of not repeating acts of the Warring States Era, but also left an even greater impression across other countries. Since the birth of Confucianism, this luxurious teaching method has expanded all over the world, receiving many followers’ that seek to continue Confucius legacy. Many signs of Confucianism can be seen throughout daily lives. Since Confucius death, many monuments have been and continue to become established in his honor. “Today there are many temples that were built to honor Confucius. The temples built to Confucius are not organized places were groups gather to worship, but a public edifice designed for annual ceremonies.”
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