Confucius said family harmony important to society

It was reported that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat wrote on their Facebook page asking Singaporeans to treasure the religious and racial harmony they are presently enjoying in Singapore. They wrote to commemorate the Racial Harmony Day which fell on yesterday (21 Jul).

“We must treasure the harmony we enjoy,” said PM Lee, noting how race and religion have sadly become divisive fault lines in many countries.

“We worked long and hard to arrive here, and we must work even harder to preserve this peace for future generations,” he added.

“We embrace our diversity and celebrate each other’s customs and cultures, but also remember the times when tensions between the ethnic and racial groups boiled over into conflict and violence.”

Heng who is also Minister of Finance and future PM-Designate, also wrote on his Facebook page, “Harmony is about much more than what we wear on the surface – it’s really about the respect for one another that we carry inside us, and the ways we behave to show that.”

“Let us never take our precious racial harmony for granted,” he said.

Importance of family harmony

Other than religious and racial harmony, it is thought that family harmony is also an important attribute in contributing stability to society.

A society, in Confucius’ view, is an extended family in which, ideally, family relationships and family harmony prevailed.

“A youth who does not respect his elders will achieve nothing when he grows up,” Confucius said. A respectful son grows into a man worthy of respect and therefore a worthy ruler — of his family certainly, of society as a whole possibly. Rule meant, first and foremost, self-cultivation.

The gentleman “cultivates himself,” said Confucius, “and thereby brings peace and security to his fellow men.”

Even the Chinese Communist Party, which once denounced Confucianism, has noted the wisdom of Confucius’ words. In 2005, then Chinese President Hu Jintao broke the party’s anti-Confucian mold, reminding cadres, “Confucius said, ‘Harmony is to be cherished.'”

It’s not known if, in addition to religious and racial harmony, PM Lee himself also cherishes family harmony.

It was revealed in a joint statement by his two siblings that PM Lee has not invited them for Chinese New Year reunion dinner since Lee Kuan Yew’s death in 2015 and since the public fallout in 2017, his brother’s wife and son have respectively been complained against and prosecuted by the Attorney-General Office headed by his former lawyer.

On his Facebook page, PM Lee omitted talking about family harmony altogether.