Not for love of money, but of Humanity. "Greater is he who works for the good of all, then he who works for the good of himself only" ~ Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"- (NIV). I live in Singapore where the Emperor must not be disturbed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Educate people about filial piety, don't demand it

Jul 5, 2010
Educate people about filial piety, don't demand it
I REFER to the ongoing debate on the recent advertisement [here] to promote filial piety.
As the world progresses, the only constant is change. The family system is not spared - it is constantly in transition. But some basic tenets remain, though interpretations may vary. Love, understanding and respect for one another are some key basic tenets.
Caring for one's loved ones - young and old - should be promoted and inculcated. Filial piety is a highly laudable and virtuous notion. But other factors must be taken into consideration to strengthen the virtue of looking after one's elderly parents.
Shoving filial piety down people's throats - like that depicted in the ad - serves only to put them off.
Education is the key - for both children (including adult children) and parents (including elderly parents) to teach them about caring for and respecting one another.
A healthy family is one in which there are healthy relationships among members. For that to happen, the notion of "healthy family boundaries" must be promulgated, understood and accepted, if not embraced.
A boundary can be defined as the emotional and physical space between people. It is an established set of limits over your physical and emotional well-being, which you expect others to respect in their relationship with you. It is the healthy emotional and physical distance you can maintain between yourself and another person so that you do not become overly enmeshed and/or dependent. It is about the appropriate amount of emotional and physical closeness you need to maintain so that you and another person do not become too detached and/or overly independent. Balance is crucial.
Hence, for children, parents or grandparents to be in healthy relationships, they need to understand and have boundaries or limits in how they relate to one another. Healthy boundaries help establish patterns of behaviour that promote respectful interaction with others and promote self-respect. A boundary is healthy when its reinforcement leads to the development of a person who is capable of healthy relationships in which they neither exploit someone else nor allow themselves to be exploited. A boundary is unhealthy when it fails to take into account the needs and capabilities of the person.
From the various comments pertaining to Ms Hannah Chee's letter about the ad ("Does ad convey right values?"; June 23), it is clear that filial piety needs to be re-communicated or, dare I say, "repackaged" to better align with and stay relevant in our modern society.
I am not suggesting doing away with it, but to educate the public about this virtue without "demanding" it or taking it for granted.
To ignore the increasing talk about this age-old virtue by refusing to listen, understand and effectively address the resistance, misunderstanding or even fear about it will take us nowhere.
Simply forcing filial piety on people will cause them to become defensive or worse, hostile towards elderly people. It divides people and sets one group against another - turning into a lose-lose situation.
We should not demand filial piety, but teach, inculcate and let it catch on by revisiting the entire notion to make it more readily acceptable to all.
Julia Ng (Ms)

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