Confucius “On Filial Piety”



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A central quality of morality that Confucius wrote about was filial piety. This means that parents and children are expected to have a loving and caring relationship.  Parents care for and support their children while they are young and helpless and once grown children are expected to continually reverence their parents and give them care and support when needed. From the book Confucius, the Analects: the Path of the Sage Selections Annotated & Explained by Rodney L. Taylor, PhD, I quote:

Tzu-Yu asked what filial piety was. The Master said,  “The filial piety of nowadays means the support of one’s parents.  But dogs and horses likewise are able to do something in the way of support, without reverence, what is there to distinguish the one support from the other? (p. 51).

In the Judeo-Christian tradition there is the same commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” It is a hallmark of morality to honor, reverence, respect and serve our parents- and in general, our elders and superiors.  In this modern world, however, in this country in particular, we see decreasing respect for authority figures, including parents, teachers, and other figures of authority and superiority.  There is a lack of respect.  People are fighting more for their individual freedoms and rights – often developing a sense of entitlement, and a feeling that “life is not fair.” From an address I read recently by a General Authority of the LDS Church – this often happens as a person or people drift further from God.  Therefore, it seems to show a moral disintegration in society.  Although a flowering of individual freedom is inherently good – if it is accompanied by a lack of respect for authority or morality – it would appear to be detrimental.  But only time can tell what will happen as a result of these developments.

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