Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Confucius Meets the 21st Century

In Social Studies, we are learning about Confucianism and how it relates to China and the culture and history of South Asia. One assignment we had was to write a story about Confucius and how he would react if he were to be faced with the challenge of time traveling to the 21st century. Here is the paper I wrote:

The Journey

A swirl of dust gathered around the young master and formed a smoggy cloud that began creeping and rising up his body. Engulfing him, the cloud twisted and turned, resulting in a dubious feeling snaking trough his mind. Suddenly a jolt struck the young Master and he was lifted from his world. Shaking, confused, and slightly scared, Confucius was spun fiercely until he halted abruptly at a mystical looking door. The door showed him previous scenes of his life such as his dismissal and rejection from many provinces, his school being created, his disciples soaking in all his teaching as if they were sponges, and finally the door produced a foggy picture that resembles blues and grays and teals and it was all spiralling: it was happening now. He recalled a quote of his, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," as he stood there, shocked. And with that, Confucius opened the door and took a single step.

“Oh the horror!” exclaimed the appalled young Master. “What terrible things are happening! This mindset is excruciatingly painful to see. This must stop!” Standing in the middle of Perimeter Mall (in Georgia- the USA), mouth agape, eyes doubled in size, Confucius stood statue-still; disgusted and horrified beyond belief. Partly because of the environment and partly because of the people, Confucius became dizzy and sat down on a nearby bench. Perhaps it may have been aftermath from the tornado-like trip he had just experienced of being transported well over 1,500 years in the future. Anyhow, Confucius began observing his surroundings, and was shocked at what he saw and heard. First, the furnishings of the building were beautiful, expressing great wealth, and he liked it very much, however, the way people treated it was disheartening. He would have very much liked to get up from the plush couch and offer his wise opinion to the passersby, but for fear of collapsing, he stayed glued to the recliner this first incident, fists tightly clenched on the arms of the couch. It so happened that the first people he met in this new world was a group of adolescent guys. They sauntered towards the young Master, laughing and picking on each other’s flaws. Casually, they leaned into the floors, their baggy pants and tee’s only contributing to the conceitedness that was weighing them down, sending their posture sinking to the floor.
“What a bastard! He looks like a creep!” the leader said, pointing a finger of accusation towards Confucius, who was now staring at them with a look if disappointment in his eyes.
“He’s dressed like an ancient hobo! What’s with the ponytail? What a dweeb.” Another guy said, tag-teaming with the insults. The rest of the guys chuckled as one threw a half- eaten pretzel towards the trash, missed, laughed, and blindly kept walking. Confucius was furious, but his beliefs in peace and non-violence persuaded him to be calm.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Confucius stated, rising from the couch, a wise, antiquated look about his serious face. The guys just stood there, passing interesting glances at each other. Finally one spoke, but the words weren’t possessing of any kindness. He mocked,
“Uh, the bird festival not for two weeks, uh, obviously you’re here to see the other cuckoos!” The rest of the posse went into hysterics as they slumped off. Confucius was bewildered and upset. He was confused at the actions of these boys and their lack of respect for each other, the environment, and their elders. As he thought about this dilemma, a perfect example of disrespect for elders walked right by, distressing him even more:
A lady in her thirties strutted walked past Confucius with two elementary aged children. She was dressed in such an unorthodox way that Confucius just stared. Her kids were yelling and screaming, pitching a tremendous tantrum in the middle of the corridor.
“Silence!” the young Master bellowed at the kids, now quite fed up with their frivolous and nonsensical behaviour.
“Don’t be like that you fool. My kids, my ways. Move.” She snappily replied, her children now pinching and slapping each other. The lady paused to take a good look at Confucius before uttering, “C’mon, let’s go buy mommy a new Coach purse. Or Gucci.” She rushed off in the direction of a purse store with her kids, who were now occasionally throwing punches at each other while sprinting circles around their mother.
“A disgrace.” Confucius muttered, shaking his bowed head. A fiery, burning abhorrence roared through him like a waking dragon. He had to help this world. What had it become? Why were people not respecting their elders? Why were people hurting each other- both physically and mentally? And where was he? A nightmare? What is this place where materialistic things rank over the feelings of others? Where money is exchanged for the loss of conversation and real living. The technology and purchases were nothing but useless junk that had no benefit to the daily lives of these people. He did not understand why people could run around buying things without even saying a kind word to each other, but instead shouting and pouting at others about things that they did themselves. Remembering a teaching of his, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart,” Confucius became frightened. If this was what people portrayed their lives and how they taught the generations after them to act, what would the future be like? How could he let this happen? All of a sudden, a glimmer of hope came from the jumble of people in the mall. A pleasant, sensitive guy came over and asked Confucius if he was lost. He replied, “I’ve been sure of where I am in the past, but I fear I am surely lost now. The emotions of this generation are truly confusing and I have lost of sense of what is right. I am lost, kind man. Please, I would like your help in bringing me back home.”
“Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, who are you? And why are you here? You don’t look as if this is were you intended to spend a Saturday evening.”
“I am Confucius, from across the world. I live in poor conditions and do not have the privilege of living in such a place as this. I am from the past, I believe, because places such as this are beyond chimerical. As much as I like this gorgeous landscape, I believe I wish to be home, teaching my disciples.”
“Confucius,” the gentleman began, “ I think you have time-traveled from the past. You are from what is now China. China is a country that was founded in the early 1900’s and that, I believe, is where you are from. You are a great man with great teachings, however, I cannot imagine why you are here. But seeing as you are, I’m sure you can make the best of it and feel as if you are at home.” The man, being a philosophy major, continued. “In all honesty, young Master, home is where the heart is. If you can feel the comfort in your surroundings you are home. Believe it or not, people hear still benefit from your teachings. If people knew who you are, then you would feel very loved because your teachings are a great lesson to all who learn from your philosophy. Peace, respect, and righteousness are wonderful concepts that you know of so well. I am grateful I’ve had the chance to meet you Confucius, and I must be going now. I’m sure you will get along very well here. Good day.”
Confucius thanked the man and they began to walk in separate directions. The young Master looked around and took in this spectacular world, for which he was so appreciative. Before he could walk any further, an odd sensation filled his body once more. The floor swept into the ceiling and Confucius was caught in another time crunch. Whirling around, he could barely kept his balance and crashed into the hard earth beneath him. But this time, instead of carpeted hallways, it was an old pathway in a dim-lighted building. Desks contained various information and great teachings of the young Master himself. Disciples studied and carried on as if nothing had happened. Confucius looked about, grateful to be home again. A young man walked through the door.
“Good afternoon young Master.” He spoke, gracefully walking towards a table full of books and writings.
“Good afternoon, welcome to my home.” Confucius said, and he sat down and smiled.


Deniz said...

I am a fan of China and people who are of nice teachings like Confucius. This is a great story Rachel. I can't believe I am the only one commenting. Great job, though.