Confucius lived from 551 to 479 BC and his teachings about virtue, manners, relationships, families, citizens, and leaders still are alive and well in contemporary China. His philosophy has been stridently criticized for chauvinism, hierarchical power, authoritarianism, and the violation of human rights. Yet there is much in his philosophy for everyone — not just those living in China, Korea and Japan — to take to heart in these troubled times.
Michael Schuman, a former Asia correspondent for Time and The Wall Street Journal, is convinced that this ancient sage will once again speak with a loud voice about tradition. While other religions, cultural influences, and political movements have come and gone, large numbers of people are still being shaped by his ideas and ideals about fathers and sons, husbands and wives, education, socializing at the office, and conducting business.
When you ask East Asians about their religion, they will say they are Buddhists or Christian but their way of life or ethical perspective is Confucian. Schuman adds:
"In his words can be found a humanistic vision of mankind applicable to any time period, political system, or culture. There is a timelessness, a universality to the teachings of Confucius that holds meaning whatever your nationality, ethnicity, or religion. Confucius is a man who is as important for the future as he has been in the past."
According to the author, this sage had the highest regard for benevolence which was characterized by respectfulness, tolerance, trustworthiness in word, quickness, and generosity. Although he was not successful as a statesmen, he left behind a legacy in the presence of some gifted disciples such as Mencius who believed that human beings were by nature good. Others took up the idea that the family was the foundation of a happy and healthy world. Confucians judged a person's moral qualities by filial piety: if you revered your parents that meant you would also be "a loyal citizen, an honorable gentleman, and a devoted spouse."In fascinating closing chapters on Confucius as the businessman, the politician and the Communist; Schuman hits high stride in his assessment of the positive and negative sides to China's rise as a global power and "a marvel of supersonic economic progress." 241 He hopes that a new generation will create a new Confucius for a new age.