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Filial Piety

I. Introduction Filial piety generally means respect to ones parents. In the Chinese culture, obeying ones parents held as one of the most important virtues. Confucianism particularly gives a high value for this. The Analects shows Confucius teachings about humanity and filial piety is one of the concepts he regards as vital to everyone. It is practiced in Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. On this paper, I would describe the Confucian meaning of filial piety and then integrate it to Christianity and try to know its current situation in the Philippines as a Catholic country. II. Confucianism Few of those who are filial sons and respectful brothers will show disrespect to their superiors, and there has never been a man who is not disrespectful to superiors and yet creates disorder. A superior man is devoted to the fundamentals (the root). When the root is firmly established, the moral law, Tao, will grow. Filial piety and brotherly respect are the root of humanity (jen) (Chan, 2002:20). This is the first paragraph in the analects that discussed filial piety. Whatever you do to your parents, you will do to your superiors. So the best way is to respect the parents which are already in your home. What you do at home will determine what you would do to the society and the world. I have read some examples of filial piety. Some involve things as easy as cleaning your mothers chamberpot while some take more effort like allowing mosquitoes to bite him instead of his parents. Filial piety doesnt end in parents death as the next passage shows. When a father is alive, look at the bent of his will. When his father is dead, look at his conduct. If for three years he does not change from the way of his father, he may be called filial. (Chan, 2002:21) We may think that it is too oppressive because it still holds on to the idea that a son should be like his father even if he is already dead. Every action of the son is restricted when the father is alive as well as when he is dead. But it also means that the son should observe the fathers will and

past conducts. The father serves as the moral compass for the son so they also exercise responsibility. That way the son can knows what to do when he becomes a father too. Filial piety also means never disobey (Chan, 2002:23). Here it means that children need to follow the proper way of serving their parents when alive and burying them when dead. However, this could also mean that a child should always put first their parents decisions even in their own lives. In a way, we can see this negatively. Take for example the scenario of arranged marriages wherein the parents are the one who choose their child-in-law. Their children cannot disobey this because there are bigger consequences like being disowned. The positive side of it though is that we can say that this shows how important our parents are. Children are indebted to their parents for bringing them to life and taking care of them. Obeying them is an act of gratefulness and love. Filial piety also teaches children to be patient and bear with their parents. When he sees they are not inclined to listen to him, he should resume an attitude of reverence and not abandon his effort to serve them. He may feel worries, but does not complain (Chan, 2002:28). This line shows that even if he feels his parents are not attentive, he should be an understanding child. He should always keep in mind that there are reasons for his parents actions so he must not complain. Lastly, it is not only in obeying that we can say a son is filial. Filial piety means nowadays to be able to support ones parents. But we support even dogs and horses. If there is no feeling of reverence, wherein lies the difference (Chan, 2002:22)? On this note, reverence is an important feature of filial piety. It is true that a child has to so his duties to his parents but it is supposed to be voluntary, a son needs to feel what he is doing. Without respect and the feeling of thankfulness to his parents, he only obeys and takes care of his parents out of duty. There would be no difference with what he does with other people and even the animals. One of the Confucian relationships is that of a father and a son. It is the second relationship next to ruler and subject and followed by husband and wife. The distance between a father and a son is strictly shown. The father should be higher than the son always. And the children must always revere and obey their parents. III. Christianity Honor thy father and thy mother. This is the fifth of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. Parents should be taken care of, loved and respected. The children are expected to obey them and please them. In times of sickness,

the children should take care and help them. When they die, children should bury them and give them respectful ad proper burial. Parents are important because they are the reason for our existence, used by God to bring us in the world. So they must be paid for what they have done. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Proverbs 6:20 This passage shows the importance of the will of the parents. They have a strong influence on what we do and what we think. We must always consider them when making decisions and tell them what we decide. The commandment to honor father and mother also forms a basis for charity to others to be a son or daughter of our Father. IV. Filial Piety Today We are in the twenty first century. How do we practice filial piety? Or do we still practice it? I have asked myself and some friends on what they do to show their respect to parents and elders. For me, I still acknowledge my parents decision when it comes to my life. However, I feel that I am lucky having parents that support me in what I want to do. Of course sometimes I dont know what they would to when I make mistakes, but they are understanding and supportive. When it comes to academics, they tell me that I should do well so I would have a bright future ahead. But they dont require that I get high grades or to be an honor student. However, of course as their child, I want to make them proud of me so I always try to do my best. At home, we dont talk to our parents like how we talk to our friends. We dont say po and opo anymore but there is still reverence in our manner of talking. We are like friends in a way but we dont forget our place as children. One of my friends, a Chinese, says he still follows filial piety but there are times when he feels he is restricted in his actions. When he was with his friend and was seen by his aunt, she asked him immediately if the girl with him is Chinese or not. Or when we are having org event, his mother would call him and ask him to go home. He sometimes tells us that he still feels a kid when his parents do that. He understands that his parents care for him but there are times when it becomes too much and he doesnt feel like he is mature enough to take care of himself. However, he says that they are not really strict at home. He can still do things and his parents let him do them and they dont pressure him in his studies, too. Another friend I asked, a Filipino, says she respects her parents. They are more like friends than parents-child. She goes to spa with her mom, drinks casual coffee with her dad. She can even

swear in front of them. Of course, she feels pressured sometimes, but she doesnt let the pressure from her parents control how she studies. However there are still times when she needs to follow her parents. Of course, she doesnt pay for her tuition and allowance so there is still the dependency on them. But her parents opinions have a high value for her. She considers what they say and then decides based on their opinions. It is not always the same as what they say, but she considers those opinions and makes them as standards. We all have different attitudes towards our parents. But I think the strict Confucian filial piety doesnt exist nowadays. The idea of obeying, respecting and loving ones parents becomes subjective and changes over time. However, we can still say that those values still continue. V. Conclusion Filial piety involves taking care of the parents, bringing honor to the family name and following the proper rules on burying after death (Brians, 1998). This can be seen as positive or negative. There are times when extreme respect requires the children to do something that they do not want. The freedom of the child is compromised when he needs to obey all his parents commands. There are times, however, when respect shows our love to our parents. We also regard their hold to us because they are important. Everything is good in moderation. Same goes for filial piety.

Sources Brians, Paul. "Examples of Filial Piety." 1998. Washington State Univ. 19 Oct 2011. <http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_1/filial.html> Chan, Wing-Tsit. (2002). The Humanism of Confucius. A Sourcebook in Chinese Philosophy, 14-48. Greenwood Publishing Group.