Opinion / From the Press

Do not distort filial piety

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-29 08:04

A publicity campaign in Liu'an, Anhui province, themed "24 Filial Piety Stories" of ancient China, have been criticized by a lot of residents for being poorly made and conveying the wrong values. In particular, people have identified one of the 24 stories, Guo Ju Burying His Son, for delivering the wrong message on filial piety. Therefore, the outdated dross of traditional Chinese culture, along with rigid bureaucratism, should be banned as soon as possible, says an article in Guangzhou Daily. Excerpts:

The campaign to promote filial piety was launched in Liu'an with good intentions. Given the declining respect for filial duties in some Chinese families, Liu'an has seemingly set a good example of promoting social morality.

However, one of the publicized ancient stories, Guo Ju Burying His Son, is a rather horrible tale which goes against the basic ethics and laws. The story is about an impoverished man named Guo Ju during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220) who intends to bury his little son alive in order to save food for his starving mother.

In the process of digging a grave, he luckily finds a jar of gold, which saves his entire family, including his son, from death.

Such a happy ending, no matter how astonishing, gives one a very uncomfortable feeling, for it violates not only traditional social ethics, including filial piety, but also modern laws. The story of Guo reflects an inhuman form of piety and should be banned.

Moreover, by blindly copying traditional culture for promotional purposes, the local publicity department officials have actually made fun of traditional culture. With the drastic changes in society during the past centuries, what were once considered virtues have become contrary to social needs.

We need to be selective and cautious in advocating traditional culture, especially when it comes to specific cases. The approach of "keeping the essence and discarding the dross" remains important. And local bureaucratism, including blindly following seniors' orders, should be banned along with the cultural "dross".

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