and We Need to Listen
When I was in my early teens, I would watch old movies on TV. My two favorite reruns were the old black and white Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan movies. Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan were special detectives who needed to assist the fulltime police forces due to their superior thinking processes. Their ability to see beyond the obvious intrigued me.
Arthur Conan Doyle drew me to his character, Sherlock Holmes, for many reasons. Sherlock Holmes was quiet and thoughtful without disclosing all he knew until he was ready. Besides, Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Therefore, he could write well like many other Scots.
Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes in more than a dozen movies in the 40s, and I watched most them all during the 50-60s. Whenever I think of Sherlock Holmes, I see this picture in my mind.
The series of Charlie Chan movies started in the mid-20s and continued, with a handful of varying actors, until the early 80s. During nearly 6-decades of Charlie Chan films, there were around 4-dozen made. For a young teenager, intrigue and mystery filled my mind when watching both Charlie Chan and Sherlock Holmes.
I loved the series of Charlie Chan movies that I watched, because Sidney Toler's family had come from Scotland. There he was an actor with Scottish heritage portraying Charlie Chan who was from China. Toler acted in half of the Charlie Chan movies, which were also interestingly half the actual movies in which he acted during his life. Toler portrayed Charlie Chan during the 40s.
My friends and I would go around pretending as if we were Charlie Chan and parrot him with the phrase, "Confucius say...." In hindsight, we did not mean it as an ethnic slur, but there was an undertone of demeaning Charlie Chan's ability with English grammar.
Therefore to avoid any patronizing of Charlie Chan regarding his phrase, "Confucius say", I have modified it to Confucius said. While I would watch any Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan rerun, at this end of my life, I am more interested in what Confucius said than what or how Charlie Chan quoted him.
Go to Google and type in Confucius, and you will find over 4-million sites with the vast majority containing many of his quotes and thoughts. While I do not want to critique Toler's grammar in the Charlie Chan movies, I also do not want us to right off Confucius as someone who merely throws out cute one-liners like, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. "
I teach a class in which we will spend much of a week during the semester talking about Confucius. The textbook puts Confucianism into the world religion category. Students often ask about the issue regarding Confucius' lack of belief in a deity. They see Confucius as a philosopher not as a theologian. That is a logical conclusion provided one defines a religion as requiring some sort of deity.
My students need to remember that Jainism and Buddhism are also considered religions...but neither has a god. In the East, many define religion without reference to a god but see religion as a way of life. Whether we, in the West, define Confucius as a theologian or a philosopher is not important if we learn from him.
I love Confucius for all the pearls of wisdom that he set before us. However, with his thoughts offered to us, it is our responsibility to think, question, and explore them. Confucius tells us, "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." We often muddy the waters of life, because we do not understand something but attempt to look as if we do. Look at Washington today.
However, Confucius is also correct when he taught those willing to listen to him, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Visit the Confucius Said page to read more about this topic.