Student News

Words to Live By: Confucius and the DA Values Statement

Mary Ellen Friends – May 9, 2014

“By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be far apart.” – Confucius, 551 – 479 BCE.

According to this saying, all human beings are born with more or less the same mentality and moral standards. Eventually, these qualities of one individual will differ from the qualities of another because of the different experiences throughout their lives. Confucius was a Chinese philosopher of life, education, and government. He taught people his morals in hopes that his teachings would benefit the Chinese society. His disciples preserved a number of his sayings and compiled them in a book called The Analects. One of the major Confucian concepts, ren (仁), is translated as “humaneness” or “to be a person”. In the modern day, the term has evolved to include human-heartedness, goodness, or benevolence. This particular saying prompts a person to make his or her goal in life to impart this ren to others and to become a ren person. This particular quote means that a person who acts with more moral rectitude will become a more virtuous being than someone who does not, thus distancing him or herself from his or her peers.

This quote especially applies to the Deerfield Academy community because it advocates that we act upon the same values as mentioned in our values statement. Our statement, “I will act with respect, honesty, and concern for others and will seek to inspire the same values in our community and beyond,” is very Confucian in meaning. It essentially encourages us to inspire ren “in our community and beyond.” The Confucian concept of the ideal social self is someone who possesses virtuous qualities such as generosity, diligence, dignity, and compassion. Similarly, the Deerfield concept of the ideal student is one who retains those qualities. He or she develops these qualities by acting on them in class, during his or her co-curricular activities, and when socializing with friends. The student who acts “with respect, honesty, and concern for others” and with ren would set him or herself “far apart” from those who do not.

–Kaity Jia ‘16