Gars est une des personnes les plus étranges que j’ai pu rencontré.
Gars est un américain qui vit depuis 15 ans en Chine, en général près de l’océan : à Qingdao. Nous nous y sommes retrouvés en Novembre 2018.
Gars est professeur d’anglais en Chine, et parfois en Corée. Il utilise une méthode très personnelle qui enthousiasme les élèves. Nous avons assisté à une démonstration dans une école de Qingdao. La trentaine d’enfants ce dimanche matin là était volontaire pour se perfectionner en anglais. Supplément à l’école officielle. En s’amusant ils ont appris très vite.
Mais Gars qui a crée une méthode spéciale basée sur le Volley ball a d’autres ambitions: une traduction du Tao Te King. Cette traduction sera très originale car Gars a établi une coopération avec un descendant de Confucius.
Gars veut en premier terminer un petit livre sur Taiwan et l’inévitable (mais quand ?) intégration avec la Chine continentale.
Voici un article de Gars pour un journal américain :
孔子Kongzi Shaped China (or…China Was Shaped by Confucius) -by DL
China- the Middle Kingdom- is the great rising force in the world today. Understanding the Middle Kingdom begins at one place: Kongzi 孔子. This is the Chinese name of Confucius. He lived in the latter half of China’s legendary Zhou Dynasty (1046-221BCE) during the Warring States Period (战国时代zhanguoshidai, 479- 221BCE). China’s third proud (and longest) dynasty, its central capital fell on hard times, finally shutting down, such that the provinces all became small independent kingdoms, called 国guo. It was a time of war, and Confucius and other philosophers thought deeply about how to rearrange society to bring about Peace.
It seems counterintuitive, yet the philosophers of that era conducted deep thinking into how to use Love to bring peace and end the Warring States Period. One famous philosopher founded a cult, saying that Universal Love- 兼爱Jianai- is the solution to war. Yet Confucius had a different idea, based on Family- 家jia. He believed that… if all of the families of the country were organized well, then the country would be healthy. The entire life of Confucius was spent travelling around to different kings’ palaces, trying to convince them to use his family-organization system. It was disappointing. Nobody listened to him. He died disappointed and rejected. Yet his time would come.
In 221 BCE, Qinshihuang 秦始皇 from the Western State of 秦国Qinguo (incl. modern Xi’an) conquered all of the states of China, unifying China (using militarism, not philosophy). His brutal reign did not last, though. Only 14 years later, his Qin Dynasty 秦朝was overthrown by the new Han Dynasty汉朝 (206 BC–220CE ). Soon after, in 150 BCE, a Han 汉 emperor, Emperor Wu武帝forever changed China when he implemented Confucius’s system of family- across the entire empire, in every single household. In order to grasp the Middle Kingdom, this is absolutely critical to understand, for the very daily life of China has been guided by the system of Confucius, from 150 BCE… until this very second, right now.
The Goal of孔子Kongzi (er, Confucius): 德 De- Virtue
Confucius had the goal that the human society be fully composed of highly moral people behaving good to each other all the time. Everything starts and ends with the family he said.
Confucianism has a small handful of “values”- goals for human behavior to aim for, and the most important is 孝xiao.
孝xiao means “loyalty to family.” (It is often translated as “filial piety,” but nobody ever uses those American words.) Try to imagine a world where everybody was always polite to everybody, said thank you and excuse me, never said bad words, helped friends going through hard times, helped elderly people in and out of cars, and always did their work completely and dutifully. This perfect world would be full of 德 De- Virtue. 德 De is 孔子 Kongzi’s number top value. He wanted to see the whole society behaving morally, with德 De. How?
The Chinese family quickly differs from American style. Our simple word brother equals two different Chinese words; aunt and uncle each refer to four Chinese words. So, three American words equal twelve different Chinese ones. What gives?
孝Xiao- Loyalty to Family
In Confucianism, 孝xiao- loyalty to family-has rules, based first on age. So, our American brother and sister each have a different Chinese word to denote whether the sibling is older or younger. 哥哥gege and姐姐jiejie mean “older brother” and “older sister.” 弟弟didi and妹妹meimei mean “younger brother” and “younger sister.”
If someone introduces you to their 大姐dajie and their 弟弟didi, you immediately know a volume about their relationships. 大da means “big,” so 大姐dajie means “oldest sister.” In the Chinese family, to be 孝xiao- loyal, the oldest sibling has a severe responsibility to always fight, work for, protect, and teach their younger siblings. So, when you hear that this is someone’s older sister (大姐dajie), you know immediately that they look up to this oldest sister; they have the responsibility to follow this oldest sister; to listen to her and, in fact, defer to her. The relationship is very clear. Moreover, since you are good friends with this person, this 大姐dajie would also be expected to fight, work for, protect, and teach YOU, since you are her弟弟didi (younger brother)’s friend. Within the family unit is a whole array of expected behavior patterns, all pointing towards 德de- Virtue.
To make the point, see that with aunts and uncles, we have a whole array of Chinese language, unexpressed in American, with different words for: mother’s older brother, mother’s younger brother, father’s older brother, father’s younger brother, mother’s older sister, mother’s younger sister, father’s older sister, and father’s younger sister. All we have is aunt and uncle. Our system works well, but the Chinese system is far more descriptive.
Confucius wanted to see the empire of 中国Zhongguo- the Middle Kingdom, function as one well-oiled family. The best example of that might be 阿姨ayi and 叔叔shushu, kids’ talk. In the USA, toddlers are given the hard- and sometimes scary (!)- job of having to remember the names of big, scary grown-ups. “Hello, Mr. Wilkerson!” “Hi, Mrs. Appletree!” “Hello, Mr. Wilson!” For a little little kid, this can be scary, especially looking at big, angry, grown-up men. But for the Chinese toddlers, it’s E-Z! Any grown-up… in all of the Middle Kingdom (nearly 2 billion people today)… will be called by the name of either a mother or father’s younger brother or sister- “Auntie!” or “Uncle!” So, 100% literally, a Chinese child “sees the world”… as if all of the grown-ups all around (e.g. on a bus, in a market, etc) are their uncles or aunts. Every second of the day on every single bus in China, there is some young mother pointing their toddler to a young woman, saying,” 叫阿姨! 叫阿姨! Jiaoayi!” – “Call her Auntie! Call her Auntie!” And when the child finally hears mommy and calls it out, everyone surrounding praises the child. It works. The child learns, “I should call all the women ‘Auntie!’”
Lastly, any older man, say with a big white beard, will be called by the child 爷爷 yeye- “grandfather.” That’s right: a Chinese child, walking around a crowded area, knowing nobody, will genuinely believe that they are surrounded by their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Of course, they know who their real family is, but by liberally using these family names, the whole country really functions like one big family.
仁Ren- Brotherly Love
If the primary goal is 德de-Virtue in the family, what about outside? The number two Confucian value is 仁ren- brotherly love. (Often translated as benevolence, but again, in modern American, that word lies covered in dust, nigh unused.)
Confucianism teaches the child a perfect system: “This is your direct family! Here’s how you should behave towards them!” Then, it says: “Towards people outside the family, you should behave with 仁ren- Brotherly Love. “
Help your neighbors! Help everyone who needs help! Be first in line to lend a hand. Take care of your family first. Always listen to your parents. Always listen to your older siblings when your parents are not around. Always help your younger siblings with everything. And… out in the neighborhood, shine brotherly love, and give a helping hand every chance you get. Help everyone!
The word 仁ren is the character 人ren , meaning person/people, put next to the character for two: 二 er. 人 + 二 = 仁. The character仁ren is sometimes explained as representing “a man standing beside his other,” with the 二er (“2”) indicating the other person standing there, meaning that we should be benevolent towards that second person.
You can see this behavior most vividly in Chinese villages. If you need any help… with ANYthing…. Chinese villagers will come RUNNING (!) to give a hand. It is absolutely embedded in the society. If you need to, say, move a giant rock… and you need 3 or 4 men to roll up their sleeves, just call out. They will come running to help. In the Chinese village, EVERYONE HELPS EVERYBODY. It’s a wonderful lifestyle, very much fulfilling Confucius’s goal to have the whole society behaving very 仁ren.
Loyal to the Emperor
In this system of family loyalty, everyone has to follow the emperor. Back then, it was a religion. The emperor was known as the 天子tianzi- the Son of Heaven, with Heaven (天tian) representing the divine powers of the Universe, which bestowed earthly power on the emperor, to guide humanity. Each family, along with its rules of 德 de, 孝xiao, and 仁ren was also expected to obediently follow all imperial commands. And, since the emperor was always following his 德de- Virtue and being a good emperor, caring for the people and bringing prosperity, the empire’s population grew very large.
As a final example of how China is like one big family, consider this usage of the word 哥哥gege or 弟弟didi- older/younger brother. Imagine an associate introduces you to somebody: “This is my 弟弟didi,” she says- younger brother. In that situation, you have NO WAY of knowing if you are being introduced to: a direct younger brother, a younger cousin (either mom or dad’s side), or a best friend. (!) Why? First, Chinese has no word for “cousin.” (There is a word, but it is not in daily use.) Cousins are just called brother or sister. Then, Chinese always call their best friends as brother or sister. So…. If a Chinese person says to you, “This is my brother,” you have NO WAY to know who it is. And it happens all the time. Often, after being introduced to a “friend,” people ask, “一个妈妈爸爸的？” (“From one mother and father?”)
Confucius claimed repeatedly that he was not an inventor of ideas; that he was just passing on the great traditions of the Zhou Dynasty’s early kings. Yet, no one can doubt that he organized it and emphasized it, such that China incorporated it. China’s most simple and profound features- such as relations between parents, brothers and sisters, and neighbors- were directly and explicitly defined by 孔子Kongzi….. er, Confucius.