Sunday, June 15, 2008

One who betrays his father is a criminal

Something for father’s day:

In the Commentary on the Decision of Hexagram 37 Jia Ren / The Family, it is said,

‘Among the members of the family there are strict rulers; these are the parents. When the father is in truth a father and the son a son, when the elder brother is an elder brother and the younger brother a younger brother, the husband a husband and the wife a wife, then the house is on the right way.’

The relationship between father and son is that of love, the relationship between husband and wife is that of chaste conduct and the relationship between elder and younger brother is that of correctness.

Mang I asked what filial piety was. The Master said, ‘It is not being disobedient’. [Analects 2. 5i]

Consistent with what he taught, Confucius did not approve of a son opposing his father -
The eldest son of duke Ling of Wei had planned to kill his mother (stepmother?), the notorious Nan-tsze. For this he had to flee the country, and his son, on the death of Ling, became duke, and subsequently opposed his father’s attempts to wrest the state from him. [Analects 7. 14ii]

A more serious case that of a son’s betrayal of his father occurred a hundred years earlier than the time of Confucius:

[At a conference involving, among others states, Qi and Zheng, the heir to the earl of Zheng proposes to undercut his father and become subservient to the marquis of Qi.]

'The marquis was about to agree to his proposal, but Guan Zhong said, "You have bound all the princes to you by your propriety and truth [LI, XIN], and will it not be improper [JIAN] to end with an opposite policy? [Here] we should have propriety in the form of no treachery between son and father, and truth in that of the son's observing [his father's] commands according to the exigency of the times. There cannot be greater criminality [JIAN] that that of him who acts contrary to these two things."

"We princes," replied the duke, "have [tried to] punish Zheng, but without success. And now when such an opportunity is presented to me, may I not take advantage of it?"

"Let your lordship," said Guan, "deal gently with the case of Zheng in kindness and add to this an instructive exposition of it, and then, when you [again] lead the princes to punish the state, it will feel that utter overthrow is immanent and will be consumed with terror. If [on the contrary] you deal with it, adopting the counsel of this criminal [JIAN], Zheng will have a case to allege and will not be afraid. Consider too that you have assembled the princes to do honor to virtue, and if at the meeting you give place to this villain, [and follow his counsel,] what will there be to show to your descendants? And further, the virtue, the punishments, the rules of propriety, and the righteousness displayed at the meetings of the princes, are recorded in every state. When record is made of the place given to such a criminal [JIAN], there will be an end of your lordship's covenants. If you do the thing and do not record it, that will show that your virtue is not complete. Let not your lordship accede to his request. Zheng is sure to accept the covenant. And for this Hua, [the earl of Zheng's] eldest son, to seek the assistance of a great state to weaken his own--he will not escape without suffering for it. The government of Zheng, moreover, is in the hands of Shu Zhan, Du Shu, and Shi Shu, those three good men. You would find no opportunity now to act against it."

[On this] the marquis of Qi declined the proffers of the prince, who in consequence of this affair was regarded as a criminal in Zheng. The earl begged from Qi the favor of a covenant.'

[Duke Xi, year 7, 652 BC, Legge p. 148, col. 10, & p.149] [More stories from ‘Zuozhuan’ is a click away under Resources]

If the father is in truth a father and the son a son, then the house is on the right way, otherwise harmony within the family breaks down.

Therefore a father should be loving and protective of the son while a son should be loving and obedient to the father, not only just for the happy occasions on father’s day, but 24/7.

However if you have not spoken to your father or your son for a while, why not pick up the phone and call him now?


No comments: