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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We received the following information and were indeed very interested in this event.

The United Nations lnformation Service (UNIS), Vienna, in cooperation with the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, and the UNESCO Club Vienna invite you to the opening of the exhibition of “One Family”
on Friday, 2 September 2011 at 12:00 noon –  at the Vienna International Centre { this is the UN territory in Vienna }.
Rotunda, Wagramerstrasse 5, 1220 Vienna.
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The art project “One Family”, an initiative of the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, the UNESCO Club Vienna and the artist Yusheng Zhao is a series of paintings by children on five different continents showing the children’s concept of their family and cultural identity.
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The first in the series of paintings, created by children in Vienna, was being displayed at the Vienna International Centre in August 2010 to launch the International Year of Youth.
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The exhibit this year shows paintings from children from five continents, symbolizing a world for a constructive peaceful coexistence. Children having created the art work will be present at the opening.
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The exhibition will be on display in the Rotunda from 2-15 September 2011.

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At the Friday, September 2, 2011 opening:

Welcome remarks: Janos Tisovszky, Acting Director, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna

Speakers: H.E. Jingye Cheng, Permanent Representative of  the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations (Vienna)

and Professor Richard Trappl, Director, Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna

The opening was accompanied by a children’s musical performance – The children – the “Chinese Bridge” choir of a bunch of delightful little girls, that were running around and having great time even when not singing, came with their mothers from the Youth Department of the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna.

The musician was not Chinese – but from the Caribbean – Andri Joel Harison, and two young students from Hawaii spoke about the project – Kari Kehaulani Noe and Amanda Lee Nelson – they got involved with the project when on a vacation camp on the Island of Oahu.

* *** *

Though we follow China very closely on www.SustainabiliTank.info nevertheless, above invitation caused me sort of a culture shock.

First I realized that a Dante Alighieri Institute for Italian Culture and language, or a Goethe Institute for German Culture and language, or an Alliance Francaise Institute for French Culture and Language, or a Cervantes Institute for Spanish Culture and language would have meant no news to me. I simply caught myself not being prepared yet that the Chinese Culture and language, following the rise of global interest in China’s economy, is now a given – and I bet the future biggest such outreach – and after the end of the Mao period – why indeed not pick the Confucius name as boiler-plate for this endeavor?

Actually – this is a bit more complicated. No texts by Confucius survive that are demonstrably authored by him, and the ideas most closely associated with him were elaborated in writings that accumulated over the period between his death assumed to have happened in 479 BC and the foundation of the first Chinese empire in 221 BC. Since – these teachings were intermingled with the Imperial institutions.

The philosophy of Confucius, as it came down to us, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such  as Legalism or Taoism  during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). His thoughts have been developed by others into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism that served the purpose of the Empirial House and it basically advises subservience.

The principles attributed to him had a basis in common Chinese tradition and belief. He demanded strong familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children (and, according to later interpreters, of husbands by their wives), and the family as a basis for an ideal government. He is considered as proponent of the Golden RuleDo not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.

Although Confucianism is often followed in a religious manner by the Chinese, arguments continue over whether it is a religion. Confucianism discusses elements of the afterlife and views concerning Heaven, but it is relatively unconcerned with some spiritual matters often considered essential to religious thought, such as the nature of the soul.

Confucius, to the Chinese, is a model of human excellence, – he serves as the ultimate model, this rather than a deity or a universally true set of abstract principles. For these reasons, according to many Eastern and Western commentators, Confucius’s teaching may be considered a Chinese version of humanism.

On politics – Because his vision of personal and social perfections was framed as a revival of the ordered society of earlier times, Confucius is often considered a great proponent of conservatism, but a closer look at what he proposes often shows that he used (and perhaps twisted) past institutions and rites to push a new political agenda of his own: a revival of a unified royal state, whose rulers would succeed to power on the basis of their moral merits instead of lineage. These would be rulers devoted to their people, striving for personal and social perfection, and such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules.

While he supported the idea of government by an all-powerful sage, ruling as an Emperor, his ideas contained a number of elements to limit the power of rulers. He argued for according language with truth, and honesty was of paramount importance.
In discussing the relationship between a king and his subject (or a father and his son), he underlined the need to give due respect to superiors. This demanded that the inferior must give advice to his superior if the superior was considered to be taking the wrong course of action.

Soon after Confucius’ death, Qufu, his hometown, became a place of devotion and remembrance. It is still a major destination for cultural tourism, and many people visit his grave and surrounding temples. In pan-China cultures, there are many temples where representations of Budha, Laozi, and Confucius are found together. There are temples dedicated just to him, which have been used for Confucianist ceremonies – also a tradition of holding yearly spectacular memorial ceremonies  Confucius birthday, using ceremonies that supposedly derived from a disciple as recorded by Confucius. This tradition was interrupted for several decades in mainland China, where the official stance of the Communist Party and the State was that Confucius and Confucianism represented reactionary feudalist beliefs which held that the subservience of the people to the aristocracy is a part of the natural order. All such ceremonies and rites were therefore banned. Only after the 1990s, did the ceremony resume. As it is now considered a veneration of Chinese history and tradition, even Communist Party members may be found in attendance.

In Taiwan, where the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) strongly promoted Confucian beliefs in ethics and behavior, the tradition of the memorial ceremony of Confucius is supported by the government and has continued without interruption. While not a national holiday, it does appear on all printed calendars, much as Father’s Day does in the West.

I remember in Chinatown, New York City, when it was decided to put up a statue of Confucius, there was an uproar from part of the community. Confucius just was not all inclusive so far as the Chinese diaspora was concerned.

With above in mind I found of interest that not only is the Chinese Culture and language Institute of the University of Vienna named after Confucius – www.Konfuzius-institut.at – but similar institutions exist in other parts of the world – this as in Hawaii (the US), Madagascar, Peru, Melbourne (Australia), and China, exist Confucius Institutes as well – as there were children at work as well on preparing paintings that are shown in this exhibit.

The project ONE FAMILY follows a Chinese proverb that says FOUR OCEANS – ONE FAMILY.  The Ocean here is not a barrier – but a unifying ocean. In a central position there was a conventional drawing of the world map with Europe/Africa in the center, that had four vertical water lines – the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and again the Pacific Ocean – so I quiped to Amanda – I see here only 3 Oceans – the globe is round – so there are only three.  She immediately volunteered that the Arctic Ocean is the fourth ocean. That was fine with me and I said that what I see there – to be exact – Four Oceans – One Family – One China.  Really what we have here is the simple fact that the Chinese communities all over the world make now the World One – For China.  The children of the world, in their cooperation, help China enter this globalization process as leaders – and it happens through the Confucius Institutes that link over the waters.

Like the choir – the children are the bridge – not all of them are Chinese. The children draw the things they know. The Madagascar kids did a banana plantation and life in villages, the Melbourne kids know they are in a different hemisphere – so they have people turned upside-down, the Peruvian kids even did some politics looking at indigenous people wanting independence – somehow everyone was touching the water’s edge.

The project inspired the children – and they replied with enthusiasm with a feeling of belonging and an intent of peaceful coexistence.

Some of the paintings were prepared for an earlier display in Berlin and the Chinese Cultural center there, that was titled “FUTURE CHINA.” Other paintings were done with the help of the Confucius Institutes that sponsored i.e. the camp in Oahu, Hawaii.  On the outer side of the circular exhibit at the UN Rotunda there were paintings, drawings, washes that were clearly done by full fledged artists – some from Taiwan and Tibet – China is one I repeated to myself as I use to do on our website.  A work from Beijing clearly stated – “One World – One Dream.”

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