Yun Yi's Stuff

Disappointment And A “Period”! — My Battle With Confucianism Is About to End

Posted on: July 28, 2013

Wang Xiang (Osho) ice fishes for mother's meal
Wang Xiang (Osho) ice fishes for mother’s meal (Photo credit: Claremont Colleges Digital Library)

It has been frustrating. After I initiated two blogs and one facebook page for Su Li’s Day (a day for remembering a girl who was tortured to death by her own mother, also for all child abuse victims in China), a netizen friend suggested that I should write a petition (a joint signed letter) to legislature in China, to appeal for actions in Chinese government to concern this issue, to establish a more executable law and some organizations for children’s protection. I thought this was such a great idea. Though I knew this may not work out, I wrote a draft nonetheless, just to see how far this could go. However, after I posted the draft in the forum of CND (Chinese News Digest) and another Chinese popular website, asking for advices or suggestions, and support (by sending me their “signatures”, basically just names), the responses were very disappointing. Only a few people responded, most of suggestions were neither geniune, nor relevant. And needless to mention some of them were scornfully discouraging. Even though dozens of people supported the idea before I made draft, only two people sent me their signatures after 3 days since I posted draft.

In 2011, some school activity: washing parents’ feet. Serving
parents (like “slaves”) is the primary teaching of Confucianim.

Personally, I do not believe China has much hope from within. If we want to see some progress in humanity in this society, some fundamental cultural ideology has to be changed, even eliminated, but very few Chinese people would agree on this view. Many people (include some none-Chinese) might see China appears to be very strong now, but please be aware, that the recently decade of soaring economy was promoted by international markets, together with all imported technologies. Under such glowing surface, the disparity of rich and poor, the degeneration of morality accelerated by the same speed of economy rising. And for solving moral problem, again, Chinese society turned to Confucianism, an ancient outdated yet lifeless ideology based on ancestor worship. This ideology was superficially “destroyed” by Mao, especially during Cultural Revolution, but after economy “prospered” during recent couple of decades, Confucianism not only did not weakened, but revived. I was saddened a few days ago when I heard that “24 Filial Piety Exemplars”, a notorious traditional Chinese moral teaching text, virtually nothing more than a book of child abuse, again appears in some elementary schools’ textbooks in China.

After being disappointed by all of these, I realized, that this open letter I drafted, which nonetheless will be read by some people, would be a “period” of my over ten years serious thinking about this subject – how the widely spread child abuse in China relates to Chinese tradition. As an individualist, I have no interest, nor energy to involve in any social activities, writing this petition letter was completely motivated by my own personal conscience. And I am fully aware of that this petition will be like a water drop in ocean, soon disappears without any trace of it. I am just fine with that, because I understand, when facing such a stubborn tradition, the real solution lies in collective effort. And if the society doesn’t make any effort, or if the collective effort went to wrong direction, the solution would have to rely on some natural/historical mechanism, which doesn’t always favor human-interest (if you know what I am talking about).

Yes, I am disappointed, but not personally unhappy, because my interest will move on, from this “Chinese problem”, to some much more fascinating “human problems”. (Oh boy, I am certainly not a problem solver, but a problem finder. :-))


*The illustration above is one of 24 Filial Piety Exemplars which tells a (adult) son lying down on icy surface of river, using his body temperature to thaw the ice, in order to get fishes for his mother to eat. So please don’t be fooled by the beautiful art style, the content is sticky!

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11 Responses to "Disappointment And A “Period”! — My Battle With Confucianism Is About to End"

You seemed to be a very brainwashed and superficial person. How many Confucian texts have you actually read? You said

“washing parents’ feet. Serving
parents (like “slaves”) is the primary teaching of Confucianim”

Stop lying. This is just your stupid, shallow, orientalist understanding of an ancient tradition.

Confucianism has never advocated any such things. The modern Chinese state ans culture is something very different. It is probably the LEAST Confucian China has ever been.

I’ve written a post demolishing all the racist, culturally supremacist and orientalist understandings of Confucius and I’ve used actual text from the classical Confucian works to show how erroneous these claims (like yours) are.

You are just a tool for both white supremacy and you further child abuse by putting the blame where it’s not due.

I hope you could first make sure about the definition of “Confucianism” before you made such an aggressive/senseless comment.

Your ignorance knows no bound. Try to read some books before commenting on something when you are so clearly devoid of any knowledge.

You don’t seem to have slightest idea about the difference between the “classical Confucians works” and “Confucianism” – a collective ideology.
Also, if you keep speaking in such a aggressive way, your comments will not be shown in this blog.

I’m saddened that your response was so poor – but, as you say, change must come from within, and be driven by a deep and real desire to see and allow change. There is so, so much to overcome in this world of ours. I hope you will find peace in making your corner of it a better place, one day at a time…

thanks melody! your comment made my day 🙂

It’s sad to see so many clueless airheads like you two who cannot see beyond their prejudices and always let others do the thinking for them.

Thanks for this article. There used to be in Hong Kong a place called ‘Tiger Balm Gardens.’ ( What the general literature does not tell you is that there used to be a number garishly illustrated panels, showing the hellish punishments that awaited children in the Ten Courts of Hell, if the kids were guilty of the heinous crime of unfilial behaviour. The pictures were gruesome and horrific. Some people have told me that in their childhood they were taken there and shown these pictures, which traumatised them. You can see similar pictures here (

I’ve been teaching in Hong Kong for twenty years and can certainly attest to the abuses of the concept of filial piety. These days it often manifests in the form of uncommunicative parents loading kids with unreasonable workloads and forcing them to study things they are not interested in. I wrote a few things about my experiences here ( This blog is unfinished. Apologies for that.

Thanks Stephen Austin for your reply and article. Your article is comprehensive and profound, yet very objective about this cultural fact. It is the first one written by a Westerner I’ve ever read. I like to ask your permission to post a link in my blog. Thanks!

Hi Yun Yi
You’re welcome and thanks for your comments. Of course you can link my article to your blog.

[…] Stephen Austin who wrote a comment to my post Disappointment And A “Period”! — My Battle With Confucianism Is About to End” a while ago and left a link to his own article, which I found very profound and objective, yet […]

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