The Virtue of Obedience


Much is to be said of Western culture: it’s focus on individualism, the ego (power, money, reputation, standing out as an individual), and self-advocating/non-conformity/being unique/standing out/working harder to achieve than others.  There is so much to be said of competition and encouraging individuals within society to dominate, to win, and to always speak up for oneself if they’re unhappy or being mistreated.  However, much of Eastern culture, especially Chinese culture (but Japanese, Korean culture to name a few are similar), is built upon Confucianism.  Confucian values relate for an individual to prize the collective community over the individual.  This causes a struggle between the self and diminishing the self’s desire for the greater good of the community.  Within a purely Asian community, the community ultimately wins in that context.

When Asians move into a Western culture, it becomes a bit of a cluster fuck.  Culture clashes occur and generational values and aspirations cause for conflict.  However, the one virtue that stands out for Asian culture is that of obedience; children learn that from a young age.  Through strictness and discipline children are taught to do as they are told, to respect elders (and never talk back), and basically to handle matters within themselves or by themselves rather than raise a raucous and cause disharmony within the community.

Even other cultures including Catholicism encourage some form of “reeling in” of the self and individual desires.   I feel this virture is being lost in Western society (at least American) and it would be a shame.  Obedience teaches discipline, self-control, and a willingness to follow directions versus an obsequious, passivity to authority.  As the quote from the film “Drumline” says:

“You must learn to follow before you can lead.”

To tame the self is important  (even leaders need to follow sometimes to further educate themselves, tap into the talent of their organization, and to share the power).

The next time you speak up, try to see if it’s truly needed or  if it’s simply to appeal your ego or some selfish need.

Have a nice day!  😀



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