Parsing Piety

So far as this writer is aware, no western religion has endorsed the concept of filial piety to the extent that it has been embraced in Confucian thought. Most western traditions involve the commandment to “honor your parents”. Contemporary non-Confucian views have never endorsed the reverence and deference taught by Confucius. Upon reaching adulthood, one becomes responsible for the major decisions of one’s life. If your parents do not agree with or approve those life choices, while that may be regrettable, one nevertheless has the moral and intellectual responsibility to make and live by one’s own choices. Often, western adult children of aging parents do make serious economic and life-style sacrifices to accommodate the health or economic needs of elderly parents, although only some consider it a moral obligation. The difference between the Confucian and the western views of filial piety seems to be a genuine case of cultural relativity.

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