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Book Review on Confucius Lives Next Door

Autor:   •  June 18, 2015  •  Essay  •  1,109 Words (5 Pages)  •  808 Views

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Rachel Massey

Mrs. Christine Middendorf

REL 223

Confucius Lives Next Door

        Having lived in Asia, South Korea, myself I found many of Reid’s descriptions and experiences of Japan to be very familiar to my own. I always felt that Asia, although strange to me, was a very safe and friendly place to live, not just for myself but for my child as well. I remember seeing children as young as 5 years old playing outside on the streets without a parent hovering over them and thinking to myself that would never happen back in America. I also remember that any adult on the street would make any corrections or reprimands to any children if need be, not matter if they had a relationship with the child or not. Again, something that would never happen in America. For me this brought home the point of “it takes a village to raise a child” and how refreshing it was to see this concept in play. However, unlike Reid, I never really questioned the purpose or underlying reasons of why things were the way they were in South Korea. Looking back now I can see how Confucianism was very much in play in this country, no matter the person’s religion.

        My neighbors (and landlords) were always so kind and generous to my family while we lived there. There were many times I felt they were almost too kind and generous. Now I can see, that even though they identified themselves as Christians, they were living by the concept of jen, or as it was translated by the Random House Dictionary of the English Language “a compassionate love for humanity or the world as a whole” (Reid 111).

        This experience has made me realize that the concepts of Confucius can be lived by any religion and to be honest most religions have the same concepts that Confucius was teaching. Such as jen, personally I do not feel that the concept of jen is a sole concept of Confucianism. Many world religions have the same or a very similar belief to this concept. I think the differences are in the ways this concept of compassionate love for humanity is practiced and to what extent they are practiced. For example, Reid provided the example of Jesus’s teachings on loving the enemy and turning the other cheek and how it differs from Confucius’s belief that the “gentleman” needs to nurture not only feelings of love, consideration and charity but must also know how to hate those who undermine the social order (Reid 112). So if my neighbors, who identified as Christians, could also live by Confucianism it is very much possible for America, a Christian Country, to also live by Confucianism.

The first step is that America must become educated to the concept of Confucianism and move away from the stereotype that it is an Asian religion so therefore it must be a barbaric, hedonistic belief or that it will lead to a path of autocratic rule as it is in Singapore or China. Yes, it is possible, just like any other religion or concept that individuals will pick apart the concept so that they can only use what they feel would be to their benefit to preach a message or gain the support they want for their cause. However, other Asian countries, like Japan and South Korea, have shown that it is possible to have a democratic society that lives by Confucianism. Now this is not to say they are doing everything right, since there is still corruption in these countries, yet they seem to be doing something right that creates a safe, happy and harmonious society.

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