Haibun is a combination of prose and haiku poetry. In this haibun, I have adapted the format into a political statement to fit the times.
I married into a Chinese familiy. We have a three bedroom flat in Shanghai. For the last decade, I've been learning about China.
The Confucian morality of China compared to the West
China has never had a dominating, organized religion like Christianity or Islam. These religions are in China but they have never played a major role in the culture until the 19th century.
C.M. Cipolla wrote in his book, ‘Guns, Sails and Empires‘, “While Buddha came to China on white elephants, Christ was born on cannon balls.”
Opium Wars - Christian nations (France and England) forced drugs and Christian religion on China
Taiping Rebellion (led by a Christian convert) - more than twenty million dead
Confucious 551-479 B.C.E.
Qin-shi-uang-di 259-210 B.C.E.
Mao Zedong 1893-1976
Deng Xiaoping 1904-1997
Confucius lived during the warring states period before China was unified as one nation. Confucius is considered the founder of the Chinese ethical and moral system based on The Five Great Relationships:
1. between ruler and subject
2. father and son
3. husband and wife
4. elder and younger brother
5. friend and friend
In each pair, one role was superior and one, inferior; one role led and the other followed.
Yet each involved mutual obligations and responsibilities.
Failure to properly fulfill one’s role could lead to the termination of the relationship. Notice that religion and God are not mentioned among the Five Great Relationships.
Qin-shi-uang-di brutally unified China. When scholars protested his edict to have one written language, he gathered those men, had them dig their own mass grave and burned them alive before burying them. Today China has one written language and more than fifty-six spoken ones not counting different dialects.
Mao Zedong ruled China from 1950 to 1976. To some he is known as the Modern Emperor. He lived in the Forbidden City and was the architect of the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the ‘Cultural Revolution’ that led to the death of more than thirty million through starvation and tyranny. To others he is known as the George Washington of China because he freed the peasants from the landowners that used them like slaves. Mao also enacted laws that made women equal to men. Prior to Mao, women were chattel, the property of men.
After Mao died, Deng Xiaoping brought back a market economy and the private ownership of land on a limited basis. Not wanting another era of harsh suffering like that experienced under Mao, reforms were enacted. The Communist Party (with a membership of seventy million voting members) set term limits of two, five year terms to serve in an elected government position and set an age limit at sixty-seven. By 2012, only Chinese educated in the West (America, Canada and Europe) will be eligible to hold public office and rule China.
The more China changes, it stays the same.