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Hist80paper - Aubrey McMillan It was the night of the...

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Aubrey McMillan It was the night of the Emperor of China’s state banquet, once again. Unlike state banquets of the past, this feast was arranged for important business regarding the condition of the Chinese Empire. Emperor Kang had watched his empire crumble over the past year as crops failed due to droughts, causing his people to starve. Panic had spread across the country. Knowing the Chinese Empire was beginning to buckle, bandits and barbarians had begun to raid cities, triggering battles to erupt. It was a distressful time for the people of China, but Emperor Kang was determined to strengthen and unite the empire once again. With these intentions, Kang invited three scholars to the state banquet, a Confucian, a Daoist, and a Legalist. He hoped that one of these scholars would be successful in advising him on the causes of this destruction and how to approach a solution. After all of the guests arrived, the great feast began. The Emperor was seated at the head of the dining hall, along with his three advisors – Chang Wu, Hao Jin, and Huang Fan. Chang Wu, the Confucian scholar, was the first of the three advisors to present an argument to the Emperor. “Emperor Kang,” Wu began, “The Confucian ideals of humanity, propriety, and righteousness have been violated, contributing to the current disasters 1 . True morality was not practiced, causing this chaos to escalate. Agriculture has not been of great importance to your empire, which has contributed to these crop failures and famine. You have engaged in battles to protect your borders, which has led to many deaths. All of these factors have plagued this empire with chaos. Confucianism, if instituted, will restore this empire’s greatness.” 1 1 Patricia Buckley Ebrey, ed. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. 2nd edition. (New York: The Free Press, 1993), 19-21.
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“Confucianism,” continued Wu, “advocates a conservative response to chaos 2 . In other words, you must look back to past empires in order to restore this nation’s greatness. Thus, your people must be devoted to fulfilling their roles in society, people of the Western Zhou Dynasty had done 3 . Boys must be raised as gentlemen, which will ensure that they cherish morality, respect, and benevolence 4 . Everyone must treat their neighbor the way that they, themselves, want to be treated 5 . Doing what is right, regardless of the consequences, is of the utmost importance. With this true sense of morality, your people will not need harsh laws or punishments. Instead of laws, you shall introduce ritual protocols to your ministers 6 . Your ministers will then loyally serve you 7 . In addressing your nation’s difficulty with famine, I must emphasize the importance of thriving agriculture in establishing self-sufficiency.
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