As an ethnic Chinese who grew up in China, I was deeply influenced by Confucian values since childhood. In particular, after Deng Xiaoping initiated the Open and Reform Policy in the late 1970s, I witnessed the powerful release of the cultural energy of Confucian values that has been driving the country from poverty to prosperity. In 1992, I moved to the US and became a member of the Asian American community. During my stay in the US, I have observed that a lot of Chinese Americans who apply Confucian values in their lives bring success to themselves and their families.
In this book, I’d like to share with you the key Confucian values that remain enlightening and beneficial in modern society. Importantly, I will share with you how Chinese Americans apply such values to their lives in helping them to pursue the American Dream. You will discover, in the pages that follow, that while many Confucian values and principles are easy to understand, it is the implementation of them that makes the difference.
This book is organized into two parts and eight chapters.
Part I. Why Does America Need Confucian Values? It consists of three chapters:
- Using broad social and economic data as a foundation, Chapter 1 strategically analyzes the key challenges facing the US: global competition, decline in education quality, skyrocketing government debt, the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare, and high oil prices. It reveals an unpleasant truth: Since the financial crisis, the US has entered a challenging time. In order to maintain a good living standard, many Americans need to change their lifestyles and the ways they parent their children.
- Based on compelling data, both historical and recent, Chapter 2 illustrates the far-ranging influences that Confucian values have created in ancient China, the rapid economic growth of Japan, Taiwan, Korean, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the rise of China, as well as the extraordinary achievements made by Chinese Americans and Asian Americans as “the Model Minority” in the US. It points out that often the secrets behind these success stories are inspiring Confucian values.
- Chapter 3 introduces the five inspiring Confucian values that are positively influencing today’s Chinese society. This chapter will briefly introduce the origin of Confucian philosophy, its evolution throughout history, and how Chinese people adapt it usefully into secular living guidelines, making them highly competitive in modern society.
In Part II. The Five Inspiring Confucian Values, I will use chapters 4 through 8 to discuss each Confucian value in great detail. Each chapter starts with a review of why a Confucian value is important to today’s American society. It then introduces the Confucian values and principles in this subject area. Following that, each chapter will describe how Chinese people apply Confucian values to their daily lives to make them successful. From many examples, you will find out how Confucianism-influenced Chinese families set up career and educational objectives, parent their children, make money management decisions, and handle family and friendship issues. At the end of chapters 5 and 7, I will discuss how to strike a balance between good Confucian values and Western values so you can utilize the strengths from both sides simultaneously. For readers who already have a good understanding of the benefits of Confucian values but are eager to learn the principles and how to apply these five Confucian values, they may quickly scan through the first three chapters (Part I) and focus on Part II of this book.
Part II consists of five chapters:
- Chapter 4 will discuss the First Confucian Value: Li-zhi (立志) “Determination for an Outstanding Life.” It first talks about the need to have a big dream for yourself and in particular for your children. It then introduces the Confucian value of li-zhi and discloses the secret of how Confucianism-influenced Chinese families use li-zhi to create motivation and build personal character in order to achieve outstanding life objectives.
- Chapter 5 will cover the Second Confucian Value: Qin-xue (勤学) “Pursuing an Excellent Education.” Education is China’s “national passion” and the main vehicle for the Chinese to achieve career and life objectives. In this chapter, I will share with you the origin of this value, how the Chinese people respect knowledge and emphasize education, and more importantly, how they apply Confucian educational methods to achieve outstanding educational goals for their children.
- Chapter 6 will focus on the Confucian way of money management, the Third Confucian Value: Jie-jian (节俭) “Saving for a Better Life.” Beginning with how important money management is in the US, this chapter will share with you how to use Confucian values and principles to make wise money management decisions. It will explain how, although most Chinese Americans are reputable for their money-saving habits, they also spend money on name brand cars and live in desirable neighborhoods. How can Chinese American families achieve this while other families with similar incomes cannot?
- Chapter 7 will introduce the Fourth Confucian Value: Gu-jia (顾家) “Caring for Your Family,” which is one of the core values of Confucian philosophy. Besides discussing the benefits and approaches to maintaining a stable and loving family, it will teach you how to use qi-jia (齐家), a key Confucian value, to help you to manage your family successfully: to avoid undesirable family risks, facilitate career development, and achieve good health, happiness, and other family goals.
- And finally, in Chapter 8, I will illustrate the Fifth Confucian Value: Ze-you (择友) “Developing Desirable Friendships.” This chapter will share with you many rich Confucian values on how to build successful interpersonal relationships, how to avoid bad influences and select desirable friends who can benefit your life and your career, and how to choose a desirable neighborhood that could help shape the future of your children.
These five Confucian values provide readers with insightful guidance on many essential areas of life. They cover setting up career aspirations and building personal character (li-zhi), education for your career and life skill development (qin-xue), money management skills (jie-jian), family management and parenting (gu-jia), and selecting and developing beneficial relationships (ze-you).
In the latter part of the 17th century, one of great thinkers and philosophers, Gottfried Leibniz, predicted, “As the most cultivated and distant peoples (Europe and China) stretch out their arms to each other, those in between may gradually be brought to a better way of life.” This is exactly what is happening to Confucianism-influenced Chinese/Asian Americans who benefit from the strengths of both cultures. The same can happen to many people from other cultural/ethnical backgrounds, if they are open-minded to oriental wisdom!
Obviously, every ethnic group has its successful families/people and good values that can be usefully adopted by other ethnic groups. Americans are admired for their spirit of freedom and creativity. Jews rank among the highest achievers in the fields of science and business management. Germans are well known for their engineering strength. Chinese Americans, along with Japanese and Korean Americans, are good practitioners of inspiring Confucian values, which have helped them to become the recognized “Model Minority” in the US. By opening our minds to the worthwhile cultural values of other societies—Confucian, Jewish, German, Indian, Finish, French, and more—I sincerely hope it will also generate American interest in rediscovering the values that make America successful. When good values and practices are promoted, society will reap the benefits and the country will advance.
Finally, I’d like to emphasize that the focus of this book is not on making generalizations about race, but on sharing the inspiring values of Confucius, which have had a lasting impact on many races: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and others. People benefit from learning from others. As Confucius put it, “Whenever walking in a company of three, I will surely find someone I can learn from (三人行，必有我师焉).” Part of what made Confucius a great thinker was his open mind. Why can’t we be the same way?
To understand more about the five inspiring Confucian values and learn more about how to apply these values to make you and your family successful, please visit local Barnes and Noble Stores place your order online here at Amazon.com.