Chinese culture is known to value education as one of the most important things that you can have in the world. This historical importance of education in the Chinese culture dates back from the teachings of Confucius. China is also rich in great thinkers and philosophers, all having important contributions for China and in the global scale. There philosophy was that they believe in achieving social harmony through freeing humans from deprivation and be given appropriate education and learning. According to Confucian teaching, all of us have the potential to be great, and that education is a way to achieve this.
Also, educating a person can help in correcting him, if ever he has strayed as to what is known as ethical behavior. Confucius is a proponent of offering education to all the people from all classes. Education has been a driving force for success; people from low social positions could have the chance to rise and make their selves know through proper education. Confucius’ teachings have become a basis of the social norms of the country and a great aspect in the formation of the Chinese society. Everyone, even the penniless, strives hard to send their sons to school, in hope for a change in their way of life.
Education does not only prove to be a source of knowledge but also a source of hope. Chinese education is very democratic in nature, wherein it is open for anyone, and that it promises to uplift him the society as long as he is able to survive the hardships that are brought about by studying lessons and arduous examinations. Chinese people believed in the teachings of Confucius and have used the hope of education as a motivation. They are all veered towards a life of memorizing the Classics and studying for exams in the hope of having a good position in the society afterwards.
Some of them succeeded in doing so, and have found that their efforts have all been rewarded. They believe that if they work with their heads, they will be able to rule, being in the top brass of the society; as for those who work with their hands, they are meant to serve others instead. Education then became a mode or strategy in order to survive in the country which is plagued with poverty, a country so large that the government barely hears the calls of the people, unless you strive and make you known: the purpose of having proper education.
This was reflected in Lu Xun’s writings, especially in the Preface to “Call to Arms. ” Lu Xun tells his life story, how he started as a young boy raised in a poor family. When his father died of an illness without getting properly cured, he was set into achieving a life in medicine. He aims to do this with the help of education. Just like most of the people in China, he sees education as a way to uplift them of their social status. Even if they are living a poor life, they still have the chance to rise up from poverty.
This is by sending him to study and get proper education, away from his family. His mother did everything in order to send him to school. Poverty didn’t stand in the way; she literally worked till her back hurt in order to support Lu Xun in his education. Lu Xun on the other hand did his part and went to a school in his search for education. He was more inclined with medicine, and he further learned that his father wouldn’t have died if he was given the proper treatment, not the old ways of treating such ailments.
Families suffered because of false prescriptions, lives were lost without actually being able to give any possible solutions to ailments. He studied a lot, and got into an introduction on Western medical science to Japan. This has brought him somewhere farther away from home, in the provincial medical college in Japan in his search for knowledge. He was thinking of being able to cure patients just like his deceased father, so that patients will not be wrongly treated anymore in the hands of the false prophets giving medical aids.
He all dream of doing so upon his return to China even with the increasing unrest and development of wars at that time. Even so, he didn’t lose sight of his dream. He thought that if ever war broke out, he could then serve his country by volunteering to be an army doctor, alongside helping to strengthen the faith of his people towards reformation. What changed him that time is when he saw a film about the execution of a Chinese man. This was done in Japan when they found out about a Russian spy in the person of a Chinese man.
Other Chinese people gathered around the man being executed as spectators of what is happening to a fellow Chinese. This had opened his eye that even if he pursue medicine, this can’t prevent the deaths of people who belong to a weak and backward country, and dying from illness may be very less likely to occur. The health of these people doesn’t matter anymore, as long as they are bound by the hardships of the society, they will all end up getting killed or watching others getting killed.
The most possible solution that he could turn to was to change their spirit; and this sparked his motivation to move on to literature. He could use up his skills in writing to end this problem, and probably be able to initiate a literary movement. He will pioneer a movement that could hopefully serve his people’s interest; since most of the students in Tokyo are taking up law, political science, physics, chemistry and more, but none of them are studying the arts and literature.
There were but a few who has the same inclination as Lu Xun, and they have conglomerated in order to fulfill the same goal by turning to using literature as a weapon against the problems of the society. As their first step, they decide to publish a magazine, signifying a new birth. There are a lot of things that happened afterwards, but eventually led to his collection of various short stories, something that signify his success, maybe not totally, but in his self, he was able to fulfill his dream of affecting a large number of people through literature.
Lu Xun’s experiences were but a manifestation of China’s enlightenment, wherein he was able to analyze the worth of his actions, how his futile attempts to lift his position in the society become a detrimental action for the country itself. Chinese culture offered education as a solution, but not all the time should people rely on it. This may cause their demise, if not the total destruction of their beloved culture. Education is really an important aspect to consider, especially for the part of the Chinese people.
They give it great value, and they see it as a way to uplift the life they are living in. But during the May Fourth Movement of 1919, people have stood up to the test of time; education is not always the solution. From Lu Xun’s pint of view, his pursue of getting proper education in the field of medicine is not enough. His eyes were opened to the reality of the society; they are living in a hostile environment, that if they don’t take action, they will end up getting crushed. Investing in the minds is not enough, since they have other aspects to fill in.
People from other culture undermined the Chinese people’s abilities to assess things in life in the sense of practicality. They have been engrossed in education that they were neglecting the actual concerns of the people. They were more on an individualistic perspective rather that the interest of their nation. Lu Xun has realized this, from the time that he wished to have proper medical education so that he will be able to cure the person, which has been deprived for his deceased father. His personal intention of redeeming himself from the reality that his father could be saved has clouded his mind.
In the early years of his time, he was just concentrating on his personal growth, despite the fact that he could have already involved in enriching the Chinese people’s spirit though literature. He realized this in his late years, and has been a manifestation of enlightenment in his personal level. Lu Xun’s writings were really a call to arms, encouraging people to move, to take action so that they can avoid getting crushed. These are encouragements that he gives out to the people of China, an enlightenment that takes them to a transitional phase.
The transition of these people is from self-centered efforts of education to the efforts which are more on the national interest. People who were just thinking about raising themselves from poverty are now encouraged to think on a national level; what can they do to improve their country? It is truly a manifestation of enlightenment, wherein the writings of Lu Xun was a call to arms which transformed self-centered Chinese people to a Chinese citizen concerned with the greater interests of the country.
This is highly manifested in the May Fourth Movement of 1919, wherein thousands of students stood up and fought for the country, making their voices heard all over the world. It was basically a cultural and political movement of the early modern China, which marked the awakening of a national interest, a wake-up call for the individualistic people to take action to save their country from the clutches of oppression from other countries. It awakened Chinese nationalism and re-evaluated Chinese cultural institutions including the pioneering Confucianism.
This is to answer the oppression that they received from the unfair settlements of the Treaty of Versailles, which is known as the Shandong problem, arousing national interest and awakening a movement inside every Chinese citizen. When the Chinese government embraced the intervention from foreigners and the interests of other countries, the Chinese people sensed injustice in their demands from the country. Nationalism was ignited in every heart of the Chinese people because of the unfair treatment being given by the present government who are getting help from foreigners in exchange of favors against national interests.
The major proponents of these movements are the students, who stood up and took the streets so that their voices could be heard not only by the government leaders but also by the world. In the outbreak of the World War I, the Beijing government took the side of the Allied Triple Entente because they are pursuing the return of Shandong to China. Shandong has been under the influence of Germany at that time, and China wanted its return. Japan, a fellow Allied power then pursued an attack on all German installations and properties including Shandong when the war came to an end.
In a peace conference in Paris, the Chinese government requested for the return of Shandong to China, ever since Japan took it from Germany at the times of the World War I. But at the end of the peace conference in Paris, France, all the Chinese requests have been totally neglected by the Western Allies, dominating most of the meeting and ignoring the sentiments of China. Even though these western countries advocated self-determination, it seems that they have betrayed the fellow Allied power China when they didn’t care to notice of their few requests and arrangements.
These events have fueled the fire inside the hearts of the Chinese people, most especially the Chinese students, leading to the outbreak of what we know now as the May Fourth Movement, and event in history that marked the awakening of the Chinese minds towards the harsh reality that we have today; the cruelty of man. In the early hours of May 4, 1919, Chinese students from the local universities of China came and met in Peking to draft and create a few resolutions to answer the Shandon Problem that has aroused from the unfair treatment that they have received from their allies.
This includes the opposition of the German concessions in Shandong that was transferred to the Japanese hands. Another is to make everyone in China aware of the position they are into. They want them to know what is happening in their nation today, and that they want to raise the people’s awareness. Another was a “call to arms,” requesting the people to hold a demonstration that will show their disgust and opposition to the results and terms included in the Treaty of Versailles.
The Allied betrayal of China has raised the anger of the Chinese people which encouraged them to stand up and took the streets to hold a demonstration. Majority of these people are students, coming from the local universities of the country. They wanted to get rid of the “traitors” that has overlooked the interest of China for their own interests. They wanted to punish the political figures at that time which hold important positions as diplomats. The following days were all signs of demonstrations.
People especially students from Beijing and other neighboring regions of the country rose and went on strike as a whole, encouraging other parts of the country to do so and follow what they have started. The movement went one, from Beijing to Shanghai to other parts of China, calling the people to take the streets, a true “call to arms” in order to fight oppression from other countries that opposed them. They have been deprived of their small requests, which mean that they were betrayed by their allies at one point of time.
This event is comparable to Lu Xun’s “A Madman’s Diary, wherein he feature’s the accounts of a person who may not be in the right frame of mind, chronicling everything that he experiences in his day to day life as a “normal” person in his own point of view. This diary serves as an answer to the May Fourth Movement, which is out on a different context. The mad man’s views may be considered to be as China at that time, while the other characters could be considered as the close people in his life. The mad man views that he is the center of the attention of all the people around him.
They look into him as something different, not as a person, but as something material in nature. He thinks that these people wanted to eat him that they see him as someone that can be considered as food, someone that can be cooked just like pork, or chicken, and then be devoured to satisfy the hungry mouths of the people. He fears that anytime he can be attacked, be killed, butchered, and finally be eaten. Every time he walks out of his house, he is always wary that people are looking at him differently, that they have other intentions in their minds.
Even the neighborhood’s youngsters look at him differently, just like how the old ones look at him. This has caused him of the uneasy feelings which deprives him of sleep and a good meal, and thinks that anytime soon, people will come barging in and attacking him so that they will be able to devour his flesh. These thoughts were not limited to his neighbors only. He has been thinking like this even with his relatives. He is thinking that his older brother and their caretaker also wanted to eat him.
He sees his brother as the biggest threat to his welfare, that he is also interested in devouring his flesh and organs. Because of this, he thinks that he is not safe even in his own house. He then confronts his brother and gets into an argument with him. In the end, he suspected his brother more, with the intentions of devouring his flesh growing as the time lengthens. This was a manifestation of the May Fourth Movement’s awakening. The mad man was China, wherein he is afraid of getting eaten by the people in the community.
It reflects the significance of China in a global stature. Many pursue his flesh, and that is literally the territories of the nation. China is a rich country which makes it susceptible for the negative intentions that other countries have against it and its territories. He was trying hard to protect it, and even seek the help of his relatives. These relatives are the Allied powers, whom China gave their allegiance. They wanted to get Shandong back in their names, only to find out that even Japan, a co-Allied power was after it.
And the worst part was that they were ignored by the other allied nations. What the Western allied countries did to China was a big slap in their face. They trusted them to help in restoring the territorial claims of Shandong along with a few requests, but none of these were answered. Japan took advantage of their alliance and acquired Shandong for themselves, just like how the madman perceived it to be, his relatives, or in that matter his own brother, devouring his flesh out of greed.
Courtney from Study Moose
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