Confucius Said...
But We Haven’t Listened

Often in life, we glorified leaders. However, we don’t always follow that person’s lead. We talk the talk but don’t always walk the walk. This is certainly true with Confucius. He was one of the greatest thinkers and leader in human history.

In Chinese, this is his name 孔夫子. However, we, in the West, have anglicized his name K'ung-fu-tzu into Confucius. He was born during a period of social unrest in China, which lasted several centuries after his death. Not everyone liked Confucius or agreed with him. Nonetheless, he attempted to lead people based upon his philosophy. His disciples put together the Analects, which means Edited Conversations many years after his death.

The Analects

The times in which Confucius lived, are reflected in the Analects. He is attempting to bring some sort of order to a disordered society. There are two Analects that I want to discuss with you to bring to our disordered society some sort of order.

The first is based upon a conversation with one of his disciples who asked, “Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?” Confucius’ response was, “How about ‘reciprocity’! Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”

Confucius’ insight was that if his followers lived a reciprocal life, others would follow by example. The problem was that many of his followers in the East and followers in the West haven’t followed suit.


The other quote from the Analects is related to the first quote, “To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.” Confucius infers that life won’t always be a proverbial bowl of cherries. Twenty-five centuries later, Randy Pausch said a similar statement. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Randy Pausch, a follower of Confucius

Things happen to all of us during our walk down the yellow brick roads of our lives. Often we will experience hurts, which were meant to cause us hurt by some lesser people. Essentially, Confucius is saying, you will feel the pain. Indeed, sometimes the pain will be great. Nonetheless, move on.

However, our temptation is to respond to the insult, lie, hurt, etc. Nevertheless, Confucius pushes us not to return evil for evil. That will do two things that we don’t want to occur. The first is to up the ante by lashing out at the person who hurt us. Then that person will merely continue the battle by saying or doing something hurtful.

Additionally, whether the person does or doesn’t continue the fight, you will remember the insult. Every time you mentally play over the first statement, you get hurt again and again.

Let it go, and move on. There is more in your life than merely playing tit for tat. Also, you are being observed by your family and friends. Either they will follow your example, which isn’t good, or they won’t be impressed by your behavior even if they don’t say anything to you.

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