Article Summary: Confucius Comes Home By Evan Osnos
The article titled Confucius Comes Home, by Evans Osnos gives an account of Confucius. The author shares knowledge on what he has learned about Confucius for the time he spent in Beijing, China. Generally Confucius had been to many Chinese people for years but the writer learned that he was being revived back into the modern culture.
Osnos settled near the Confucius temple and to him, “it was a small miracle that the shrine had survived” (Osnos) The author learnt that Confucius was born during the 6th century and was a prominent figure in China. Despite this, Confucianism had been severely damaged by the late 20th century largely due to the rise of Chairman Mao who believed in Cultural Revolution. However, with economic changes over the years, “people are turning to ancient ideas for a connection to the past” (Osnos) Osnos notes that many children have been enrolled in private Confucian academies where they are being taught the classics. The writer notes that Mao’s heirs have become more open to Confucianism which is contrary to what he would have wanted. For instance, Hu Jintao the Party chief stated in 2005 that ‘harmony should be cherished,’ which is one of the Confucius quotes.
The article also notes that over the past one decade, over 400 Confucius institutes have been established globally to offer culture, language, and history teachings. What is more the City of Qufu exhibits the highest level of Confucian revival as it has a big Confucius statue which has seen led to a significant influx of tourists. Osnos also narrates the background of Confucius. He indicates that Confucius means Master Kong and “was not born to power, but his idiosyncrasies and ideas made him the Zelif of the Chinese classics.”
By the time Confucius was born, his father was an aging worrier who later died when he was three years. During his childhood, Confucius was interested in poetry and when he became an adult, he was a teacher but he also joined politics later. He believed in harmony as a consensus but not conformity. Confucius was disappointed with politics and he decided to wonder all over China pointing out mistakes. He engaged a lot in conversations as they boosted his thinking but never imagined that “anyone would write then down” (Osnos) or though that his words would later be adopted as rules. After his death, Confucius teachings were wiped out by the governments that were formed in the centuries that followed but they were revived again during the Han dynasty. It was in this era that the author states that the temple near his house was constructed and became China’s greatest learning center until 1911 when the empire fell.
Osnos visited Wu Zhiyou, the leader of the temple who confirmed to him that Lao She, one of the China’s greatest poets had committed suicide, something that was not recorded in the history of the temple. She has been tortured in the temple as it was a learning institution for culture and history.
The author adds that he had observed a ‘spiritual void’ among the Chinese people and some seek employing Confucianism in the political arena. He adds that he observed more void among the people the longer he stayed in China. As he puts it: “the Chinese came to the temple, to the Holy Land of National Studies, on a quest for some kind of moral continuity” (Osnos).
Osnos, Evan. “Confucius Comes Home.” The New Yorker.