Around two years ago, I have written an article about ‘Loyalty’ and how it has shaped our believes over the centuries. I was not much aware about China & Chinese culture at that time, else this could have been much to talk about. Today, it is possible to discuss more about it through my little acquired knowledge about China.
So, what is loyalty? The general definition says, the feeling of binding oneself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action.You will say, everyone knows what does it mean by Loyalty, what’s the big deal about it? Well, there is huge connection to this phenomenon with China. I have tried to observed Chinese history throughout my year long course and seen loyalty variations over the time.
In ancient China, the loyalty has showcased different patterns. Although, China at present allows freedom of choosing religion, it was not the case in ancient China. Different time periods saw loyalty towards different religion and spiritual thinking. This variation was also closely linked with the ruling dynasties. With emperors/kings were considered equal to God at that time, there was no denial, that whichever spiritual thinking, they were aligned too, was also followed(or flourished) during their time.
Talking about the dynasties, the loyalty has been used (or some say misused) by rulers to change the mindset of people in their favor. Like any other place in this planet, history of China is full of war among different kingdoms for domination over each other and ruling over the land. How could one can build great empires spanning so much area and containing millions of people? especially when nationalism fever was not widespread as of today. Definitely, because of loyalty. An emperor could trust his close aides because they were loyal to him, many dynasties could only survive because of loyal military commanders and their loyal soldiers.
Not just war, construction of massive monuments, launching of canals for transportation on water could not have been realized, if people were not adhered loyalty to their landlord of the person who is commanding them. Sometime, I used to think that because of loyalty, kings were able to do whatever they wanted to do without any hesitation. This is not easy in today’s time to just ask people to follow your orders and start building Great Wall of China (One of the 7 wonders of the world).
After the founding of People’s Republic of China, I think this loyalty towards religion, dynasties etc translated into the rise of nationalism over the time. And this has led China towards becoming one of the growing economic superpower in the world.
With the globalization and arrival of 21st century, I think the loyalty in China is shifting towards work culture, not just being merely linked to a company. People are not talking about being loyal to a firm, or their leader but more towards being loyal to their work.
I am still far from observing the current trends in loyalty, may be you can help me in understanding this interesting aspect.