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Filial piety

Good morning Principal, Teachers and fellow schoolmates. Have you ever read any one of the stories from “The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars”? These stories depict how some children exercised their filial piety in the past. Most Chinese are quite familiar with these concepts and for centuries, have lived by it. Confucius considered filial piety an imperative moral conduct. The main ideas include loving one’s parents, being respectful, polite, considerate, loyal, helpful, dutiful and obedient. To the Chinese, it is the central ideology and even provides the foundation for many other attitudes. There is a famous Chinese saying says that if a person does not have piety towards his/her parents, how can he/she be loyal towards his/her friends, country or any other? For teenagers, being loyal and devoted to our parents may seem to be anathema to most of us because most of us want to express our independence and freedom. We want to do whatever we want. Some of us may even wonder what the importance of filial piety is. In my opinion, filial piety is especially important because I believe that learning how to be a filial son and daughter would prepare us for the kind of life we want to have in the future.

In order to live a life of filial piety, we need to exercise three things: absolute faith, absolute love and absolute obedience.

To be a filial son and daughter, we must first exercise absolute faith in our parents. Here we are talking about trusting our parents. We should give in to higher authority because they mean well. One of the most fearful things about trusting anybody in life is the fear of being vulnerable. Someone may even ask,” Why should we trust our parents completely? Why can’t I do something more interesting?”

If we absolutely trust and are totally faithful that we will do well in our father and mother’s hands, what we are doing is practicing living for the sake of others. When we give ourselves to our parents, what we are training ourselves to do is to think of the others before “me”. When you are mindful of your parents, you would always thinking about them when making decisions. By anticipating their needs, being mindful of what they might need or want you to do, you’re training yourself to execute your duties in the family in an efficient way. It also teaches us to be mindful of others as well as our conduct. When we absolutely trust our parents, we would be practicing living for the sake of others as we’re always conscious of the others in our lives. Thus we would try our best to anticipate the needs of others too.

The next step in living a life of filial piety is to exercise absolute love. If we really want a beautiful relationship in life, we need to realize that our parents have already given us their unchanging and eternal love. A family is that we are born into and regardless of what happens, we are eternally part of it. No matter where you are or what you do, you are eternally part of your family. One might not have a beautiful marriage without having worked out in his family the eternal relationships with his parents. By giving our absolute love to the people in our families is preparing us for the next stage of our life, which is learning how to live eternally with our spouse.

Last but not least, we must also exercise absolute obedience when applying filial piety in our lives. Probably “obedience” is the word that most young people want to rebel against. However, if I put “obedience” in parallel with the concept of “listening”, it may become more acceptable. Reports from family counselors stated that many parents complaining about their “disobedience sons and daughters” is that they “don’t listen” to them.

If we are really practicing absolute love by trusting our parents, we would be able to “listen” to our parents. We should really work on the importance of listening at our young age. If you understand the importance of obeying as the importance of listening, you would realize how this would help you to build a harmonious relationship with your parents.

Filial piety is considered a key virtue in Chinese culture. Harmony within family and filial piety are particularly emphasized in Chinese community. If we can work on the above three steps to become filial sons and daughters, we are paving ways to attain a fruitful future in which we can maintain an eternal relationship with our beloved one in our own family. Thank you.

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