Posts Tagged ‘dog eat dog’

In-laws

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Well, as soon as I talk about “brothers are like one’s own limbs”, I am presented with that cynical Chinese saying: “Brothers are like one’s limbs; spouses are like mere clothes ( 兄弟如手足,夫妇如衣服).” Yes, I’ve heard it before, from mistaken Chinese women criticizing traditional Chinese culture.

Why, that saying is downright untrue: traditional Chinese culture never denigrates the relationship between husband and wife to be mere clothes! At every wedding, the traditional Chinese wish is “to grow old with white hair together, to forever unite the hearts as one ( 白头皆老,永结同心).” So what are these people talking about?

Well, actually, they then say, the problem is that with the advocacy of family closeness in traditional Chinese culture, while the men have deep feelings for even their brothers there are no comparable feelings for the wives. This, it is said, proves that women must always engage in a bitter rivalry with their husbands’ relatives for affection and devotion. It’s either the wife or the in-laws, there’s no having both.

Ah, so that’s the problem! Tsk, tsk, tsk, when looked at from the viewpoint of traditional, Confucian ideology, how foolish for a woman to set herself up against her own in-laws! It is very foolish to view relations among people as a zero-sum game: if one loves his brothers the more, one must love his wife the less, and vice versa. Only fools live their lives as zero-sum games. No, the matter should be viewed this way instead: how much better for one’s husband if he has not only his wife’s love, but also that of his brothers!

True, true, back in the old days some (not all!) in-laws had been bad to the wives. But that happened not when the core Confucian principles were being followed, it happened when they were being violated! It is in accordance with the core Confucian principles for husband and wife to love each other deeply; it is a deviancy from the same principles for husbands to have “no feelings” for their wives.

From the point of view of the core Confucian principle of Cardinal Obligations being supreme, there is no conflict of interest between a wife and her in-laws. Her husband owes her the obligation of building a life together, just as she owes him the same obligation in return. He and his brothers mutually owe each other the obligation of mutual help and mutual support, and that can only be in line with the wife’s interest of building a good life together with her husband! The fact is that, far from having a fundamental conflict of interest, a woman and her in-laws have a fundamental convergence of interest. That’s why both the negative saying about in-laws and the negative attitude towards in-laws, as foolish as both are cynical, should be completely discarded.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design


Why Honesty Leads to Success and Happiness in Life - 1

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

edited Nov. 22, 2007

(”Whenever one speaks, trustworthiness(xin )comes first; lying and pretending to know, how can one do such things? 凡出言,信為先;詐與妄,奚可焉。” Di Zi Gui, p.20 )

Why should one be honest? Well, it’s because honesty leads to success and happiness. Huh? Someone asks. Isn’t it by being “tricky” (古惑) that one gets what one wants? Aiya! No, no, of course not!

Yes, the worldview that the world is all about tricking others, a variant of the dog-eat-dog worldview, leads to nothing but failure and unhappiness in life.

Being tricky and using deceit is OK for temporary gain only, and in the long haul the more you trick and take advantage of people, the fewer friends you make, and therefore eventually you will end up being unsuccessful, friendless and miserable.

True, among people who believe in this worldview of deceit, those who actually go out and lie and cheat are only a minority. Even for the majority, however, even for who refrain from trickery and cheating, this worldview is no less harmful.

Such people, who often, sadly, consider themselves more honest than most, are frequently bitter and complain that the reason they are not successful in life despite their ability (technical ability, that is, not moral ability) is that they are too honest and not tricky enough. Sigh! They do not realize that the very reason they are not as successful as their ability warrants is precisely because they have not been honest enough. For one thing, with such a worldview these people are never completely up front with others. Thus when others are able to help say, advance a career to a level more commensurate with the ability, they are never given the chance because people with such a worldview are ever so coy about their situation. Also, people with such a worldview are forever suspicious of others when they try to help, and so when others try to help they are eventually forced to give up in frustration. Yes, repeat that time and time again, throughout life, and one naturally ends up being unsuccessful, or at least not as successful as one’s ability warrants.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文



Mistaken Worldview, Mistaken Portrayal of Reality

Monday, October 29th, 2007

“The New Marriage Life (新結婚生活),” a Chinese soap opera series recently shown on Chinese TV KTFS Bay Area is really sinister in its concluding episode: the hero, a very successful college graduate and executive who throughout the series shows a lot of compassion for his peasant older brother and goes to great lengths to help him, actually only does so because of feeling guilty about having cheated the older brother out of going to college so that the hero has been able to! And the soap opera shows this dishonest man, who has flagrantly violated all morality and ethics, is absolutely forgiven in the show and enjoined not to tell the older brother, just to keep helping him. Alas, where is uprightness? Where is integrity? The whole cheating of one’s older brother out of his due is portrayed as being natural and expected – after all, when faced with the choice of either vicious, deliberate cheating of family or not going to college and thus staying a peasant, isn’t one supposed to choose the former? Isn’t life all against one and one against all? Isn’t it the law of the jungle, even when it comes to family? Oh woe! Oh what a terrible worldview!

Yes, when you expect others to be immoral, you then can act immorally yourself, since you are just protecting yourself and at worse you are just doing unto them what they would do unto you anyway. This worldview, this portrayal of reality is most pernicious. In fact of course, it is a mistaken worldview and a mis-portrayal of reality because, as we have pointed out in previous blogs (e.g. April 2, 2007), life is actually based on mutual help. Human society is based on mutual kindness, and is the diametrical opposite of the dog-eat-dog world.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design


The True Chinese Worldview is a Bright and Sunny One

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Due to a number of reasons, for a lot of Chinese people, not just ones born here in North America, the very term authentic Chinese culture conjures up a gloomy worldview of a cruel, nasty world around us and distrust of that world. True, there are a few folk sayings that preach suspicion of others. Here’s one: honest people will end up being beggars (忠忠直直,終須乞食). A widely known tract of folk sayings, “Accumulating Wide Wisdom” or 增廣賢文 zeng guang xian wen, offers this one: do not believe in the honesty behind honesty, one must be on guard against kindness not being kindness (莫信直中直,須防仁不仁). It’s a dog eat dog world out there, according to these sayings that pretend to be, oh, so worldly wise. And nowadays, when it has become popular to denigrate what has been traditional Chinese, such cynicism has been taken to represent mainstream Chinese culture. Alas! Alack! That worldview cannot be more wrong!

Yes, it’s time to talk about worldview. Just like in any other culture, in Chinese culture there are a few mistaken, cynical, worldly wise folk sayings handed down from the days of old, but Confucius has never endorsed such ideas, nor have they been the mainstream in traditional Chinese culture. There are a lot more folk sayings that are correct, that reflect the correct, mainstream traditional Chinese culture of Confucianism.

The true Confucius’ worldview is a bright and sunny one, a kind and secure one. As the ubiquitous Confucian primer in traditional Chinese society, “The Three Character Classic” or 三字經 san zi jing, says so optimistically in its opening sentence, “People’s nature is good to begin with (人之初,性本善).” Under the traditional Chinese, Confucian order, everyone enjoys the benefits and obligations due him or her from the Five Cardinal Relations, and if we add the Cardinal Relation between buyer and seller as proposed by me, then everyone has all kinds of people doing all kinds of good for him or her. There is no need to be insecure or afraid, and there is no cause to be cynical or suspicious.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design


Cardinal Obligation 6: Between Buyer and Seller

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Finally, the Cardinal Relation between buyer and seller, a sixth Cardinal Relation invented by me - is it also a relationship of mutual help? With all the talk about the “hidden persuaders,” how “big corporations manipulate us to buy their products,” and how “big business” manipulate the market to make us overpay, sometimes it is hard to see how the relation between buyer and seller can be one of mutual help. Socialist ideology and much traditional ideology from around the world, especially the poorer countries, say that buying and selling are somehow inherently dirty as the profit motive (hence “greed”) is involved, and that sellers are morally suspect as they are always looking to “take advantage of the customer” and take the “poor sucker” for all he has. Such is the cynical worldview of the “dog-eat-dog world.”

Sadly, there is still much currency to this type of thinking, especially in the more socialist and poorer parts of the world. No, the honest, non-cheating profit motive is not the same as the dishonest, cheating “greed.” The honest, non-cheating profit motive means striving to help one’s customers better than everyone else, or more than everyone else, or striving to help more customers than everyone else. Those laudable and honorable strivings are the only real ways to make more profit honestly. Of course, collecting on payments due is part of the honest profit motive, and is absolutely necessary to ensure justice and to ensure that the provision of the valuable and useful product or service under consideration is sustainable. It is absolutely honorable, therefore, for a buyer to demand and collect on payments due him, otherwise he will not be able to continue producing his product or service, it will become unsustainable, and soon noone else will be able to enjoy his product or service. He is only being responsible to other consumers and would-be consumers of his product or service to strive to make it sustainable. As for taking advantage of one’s customers in price, quantity, or quality, that is the surest path to ruin for a seller, because there is only a one-time profit and there will be a real dearth of customers as his putrid reputation becomes known.

Buying and selling is truly mutual help on the grandest scale. As I have written back on March 4:

“An extraterrestrial visitor will find the massive and intricate amount of mutual help in human society simply amazing. Millions upon millions of people go to their jobs at set hours and perform their tasks more or less to order, day after day, providing goods and services to help other people. These producers then go regularly to yet other people, like the grocer, the hairdresser, the doctor, and so forth, and receive help in the form of needed goods and services, just so much and no more, with little or no fighting, scrambling, or whining. Everything is very orderly, yet there is no one controlling or directing all this traffic!”

Indeed, advance in the level of wealth and modernization of a society can be seen as nothing other than increase in the quantity and complexity of the mutual help in a society. Every new product or service is just another type of mutual help being brought into being: whereas before we have no life-saving treatment for say, appendicitis, and appendicitis is a sure death sentence, with modernization and medical advance in a society a new type of mutual help is born, the persons called surgeon, surgical nurse, anaesthesiologist, operating room architects, builders, maintainers, janitors, and so forth, who can come together to help people by providing them with the service called an appendenctomy, come into being.

Should it be any wonder that, where there is prevalent recognition of buying and selling as being honorable and respectable, where sellers and buyers are usually honest and usually don’t cheat, the society is relatively rich, and where the opposite is prevalent, the society is poor? It is not an accident; it is cause and effect.

In the old days, when China has been one of the richest, if not the richest, country in the world, the attitude prevalent in society has been that one must be honest, must not be greedy, and must not cheat. In the past, Chinese businessmen have had a sterling reputation for honesty, fairness, and being true to their word. In fact, an article in Readers’ Digest that I’ve read during the sixties talks about how the secret to success of the overseas Chinese businessmen in Southeast Asia, besides an amazing work ethic, is their legendary integrity. Alas, that kind of integrity is not much in evidence in the thinking prevalent among people in China these days, thanks to the half century of socialist ideology there.

For the sad situation in the prevalent attitude and thinking among Chinese people nowadays, special responsibility must also be laid on the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” of 1966 to 1971, and the “Campaign to Critize Lin Biao and Confucius” immediately after, from 1971 to 1976. Those ten years of ideological “ethnic cleansing” have thoroughly rid China of its traditional culture, traditional morality, traditional integrity, and traditional courtesy, in a word, rid China of its moorings.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design


En- Yi` 恩义 or Kindness and Obligations, and the Modern World

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

The traditional Chinese emphasis on the repayment of “en`” 恩 (”yun-1″ in Cantonese), is completely compatible with modern society. Some people think that human society is a dog-eat-dog world, or is a world of the law of the jungle, but they cannot be more wrong. The fundamental feature of human society is actually mutual help.

An extraterrestrial visitor will find the massive and intricate amount of mutual help in human society simply amazing. Millions upon millions of people go to their jobs at set hours and perform their tasks more or less to order, day after day, providing goods and services to help other people. These producers then go regularly to yet other people, like the grocer, the hairdresser, the doctor, and so forth, and receive help in the form of needed goods and services, just so much and no more, with little or no fighting, scrambling, or whining. Everything is very orderly, yet there is no one controlling or directing all this traffic!

This is mutual help; this is what human society at heart is all about. The more humans advance, the more society becomes intertwined, and the more complex and intricate becomes mutual help. In fact, progress in a society can be defined as the development of more complex, more intricate, and more thorough-going mutual help: the mutual help we see in a modern city is far more complex and intricate than the mutual help we see in a primitive hunter-gatherer tribe.

So when you repay “en” or kindness, you are helping those who have helped you. In turn, those whom you help turn around and help you again. This is also mutual help and what human society is all about. The Chinese emphasis on the repayment of “en” or kindness encourages the development of mutual help, and is therefore, not only compatible with modern society, but is also a great boon to its advancement.

Feng Xin-ming


Please click to see: My Website, All Blog Entries, or The Latest Blog Entries.

请点击观看:我的网站所有博客贴文、或最新贴文


Web Design