He knew that he and the world he lived in would not long survive.At the height of the Second World War when civil strife was continuing to tear through China, Bogun Wang’s [Wang Bogun] health was failing.
The educator and revolutionary feared for his family.
As the head of a clan whose prominence traced back nine generations, Bogun rewrote the centuries-old Wang family creed to guide his heirs through catastrophic times. My good friend Ed is his son.
Above all else the Wang Creed called for filial piety. Respect for elders and ancestors was the primary virtue stressed by Confucius, the revered philosopher who has shaped Chinese life since 500 BC.
Bogun warned that his society was turning from agriculture to commerce and that education would be the key to stability. He preached that those who inherit wealth cannot afford to be idle. The privileges and resources of the clan were dwindling, they would need to be shared and used wisely.
When the Communists gained power, Bogun’s widow Zhining and her children took asylum in the U.S., leaving Bogun’s world behind.
Ed has not updated the formal code of conduct as his father did.
What he has done, at the urging of his children, is to write a book that recounts his family’s role in revolutionary China. Like Bogun’s efforts, Ed’s book is a personal gift from a father to his family. A show of filial piety in reverse.
*Patriot and Warriors is now available at Amazon
Text Of The Wang Family Creed
When I was a child, my father had taught me that we should unite our family with filial piety and friendship…serve our nation with loyalty and righteousness, be benevolent to the people who depend on us, be kind and loving to nature and animals, and take farming and intellectual pursuits as our basic life endeavors. This is the Creed of our family. Our forefather, Wang Xi, who with his aspirations of serving people and state, followed Marquis Jing Shuangdong charged by then Emperor of the Ming dynasty with the task of southwestern frontier pacification. The Wang family, originally from the Yangzi Delta, embarked on this assignment and settled in Guizhou province to secure the southern frontier for the Empire. There has been eight generations since Wang Xi lived here in Jingjatun (Jing Family compound), who strived through rebellions, banditry, and nature disasters; and avoided the fate of decline of other more prominent clans due the strict observance of this Creed.
You, as member of our clan, must carefully follow this Creed and handed it down to your descendants. When I was young, I did not understand the importance of our Creed. After I matured, I found that my father and my uncle had developed such a harmonious community/clan in our region where the people were kind and considerate toward each other; and our family had great respect from all concerned. Then I, too, have realized how effective our Clan’s Creed is. When my father passed away in 1903, I was 18 and my brother Dilun was only 14. The next year, my uncle died as well, and he left his two sons as infants. My mother had to take over as the effective head of our Clan, strictly observed our Creed in guiding us through some tumultuous times. My own experience is a testament of the importance of the Creed for the future generations.
Filial piety, friendship, loyalty, righteousness, benevolence, and love can be the guidelines of our daily lives in the management of a household, administration, of a state, and relationship with family, clan, and state. Among them, the most essential part is filial piety. Those who can be filial which centered on respecting and following the Way(Dao), as well as taking care, of their parents; will also be close to their siblings, loyal to their nation, benevolent to their wards, and establish relations in good faith. That is why Confucius had said that filial piety was the basis of morality and the origin of education. He also said that filial piety was the most essential virtue and the most principle for the ancient kings to rule. Confucian aspiration was reflected in The Spring and Autumn Annals, and his own life was a mirror reflection in The Book of Filial Piety. For his wisdom and truth, he was thought as a paragon of virtue and learning for generations, and by the experience of history, we have seen that filial piety is indeed the most important virtue of our life’s activities. Our family Creed listed it first. All member of our family must observe it as the prime directive. Only after which come loyalty, righteousness, benevolence, and love to serve our nation and contribute to the society.
In the past, our family’s basic life revolved around farming and intellectual pursuits. Farming enhances the general economy of our community. Our country was an agricultural state since the ancient time; every need of our household and clan were dependent on agriculture. With the growth of population and the progress of sciences, industry and commerce became more important than agriculture. After the end this great war (the Second World War), the restoration of our country would solely dependent on industry and commerce. Descendents of our family should follow the historical trend to expand their interest beyond agriculture into industry and commerce. We live in an era of high competition for intellectual pursuits regardless of sex. All members of our family must attain the highest level of education to the limit of his or her capability. The content of their education must include all elements that will facilitate high morality, great intellectual awareness, and physical well being and strength. Guan Zi had stated that:
“Only one has his granary full, would he know etiquette.
Only one has sufficient food and clothes, would he know honor and disgrace.
Thus, one must be well feed, before one can be well bred.”
It thus follows that if we want our descendants to be well bred, we must first devise the means to have a financially secure household. We are fortunate that our previous generations have already provided us with real estate and other commercial investments, but we must provide proper stewardship for conservation and growth of such investments. Our concern now must be to ensure that once well feed we must be well bred. In spite of legacies, every one of our family and Clan must have a suitable level of education in order to be financially independent and in a position to help other members in need of help. In so doing they will be worthy progenies and contributors to our family, Clan, and state, thus becoming good citizens to help in the building our nation into a strong member of the international world.
Although the population and economic situation of our Clan before my great-grand father were unclear, their basic life style was no doubt based on farming and intellectual pursuits. My grandfather had no brother, and he lived in troubled times. He served in the militia out of necessity to defend our community, but he did not abandon our Clan’s basic life style. In times of relative peace, my father and uncle had expanded the clan’s interest in industry and commerce. Through their leadership and successes, the reputation and wealth of our clan had increased. I had three brothers (one blood brother and two sons from my uncles – we always referred to cousins of this blood relation as brothers).
After the death of my father and uncle and I had to involve us in the greater affairs of our nation and province at the expense of our Clan and community in Xingyi. As a result, our community had suffered decline to the extent that my youngest brother (cousin) Wenyuan did not have the benefit of a good education as the older three brothers, for this, I feel most distress as the head of our clan. I now have four children of my own and ten plus offspring’s in the next generation. The growth of the Clan population has exceeded geometric progression. While in the evolution of our society, the traditional large family is giving away to smaller family headed by husband and wife sharing equally the responsibility of management.
I am concerned about our Clan’s future relative to the finite Clan assets and the ever-growing population. With the war looming ever so near to our home region, we face the real problem on how to maintain our current living standards for all members of our Clan since we are extremely limited the expansion the Clan assets. I have now approach the age of sixty years and my health in rapid decline. I strongly feel that I need to clarify the ownership rights and the management of the expenditures of our various interests in Xingyi, and to resolve any disputes and disagreements in my lifetime for the sake of the future generations of our family and clan. These issues must be resolved as soon as possible in order to strive for permanent harmony for our decedents and fulfill my responsibility as the head of the Clan. Therefore, I am writing down herewith this family Creed along with the Instructions of dealing with our Clan properties and interests in Xingyi for all members of our Clan to observe.
Written by Wang Boqun in 1943
Translated by Wang Defu