Dr. Linda Miller
English 15/Section 007
January 24, 2013
Endanger Species: Gratitude
Xiao is the most important virtue in Chinese culture. No matter how many good deeds a person has done or how great his accomplishments are, a person without xiao is considered to be a failure and is frown upon. One famous Chinese saying asks, “If one does not have piety towards one's own parents, then how can one be loyal towards one's friends, country, or any other?” In English it is called filial piety, a word I had never heard of before until I Google translated it. Filial piety is basically respect for one’s parents or ancestors. Its meaning also encompasses love, honor, and obedience for one’s parent. Filial piety is often neglected in our modern society and more people should be aware of it. Through practicing xiao, I have grown to truly appreciate what my parents had given me. It has always struck me how such an important word does not exist in common English vocabulary. Xiao is the main moral in many Chinese literatures, but is rarely mentioned in American literature. The American culture puts more emphasis on individualism and independence. And as a result many people tend to be rude and sometimes even neglectful towards their parent. But most people don’t realize that the way you treat your parents is the way your child is going to treat you.
My mother would always give me rudimentary advises such as, “wear enough cloths so that you don’t catch a cold,” “be patient and don’t cross on a red light,” and “don’t stay out too late, it’s dangerous,” as if I was still a kid. Being a teenager, I felt annoyed and a bit aggravated whenever she says rudimentary things like these, especially when I’ was with my friends. In her eyes, I would always be a child, no matter how old I was. But at that time I didn’t think much about her and how she saw things. I was more focused on myself and my world. I guess I jumped on the bandwagon of the average rebellious teenager. I would always argue with her and instead of just listening to her, I would always try to prove a point.
One day, I was cramming to finish a project on time. I had waited till the last day to do a project and the deadline was approaching. At that time my mother came into my room and asked me to do some chores for her. I told her, “I’m busy doing homework and it’s due tomorrow.” She then said, “I told you to do your homework first, then go on and do the things you want to.” I replied, “Yeah, yeah I know,” feeling a bit annoyed. “Didn’t I remind you to do your homework first when you came home every day? If you had listened to my advice, you wouldn’t be cramming at the last second.” Being under the pressure of all the incomplete assignments, I told her that this is not your business, go away. She got angry after hearing this and started to lecture me even more. Feeling even more stressed, I started arguing with her and even ended up yelling. At the peak of my anger, I told her, “Get out of my room. Leave me alone. I am old enough now and don’t need you anymore!”, and slammed the door in front of her.
After a while, when I calmed down a bit and actually think about what just happened, I immediately started to feel regret, thinking to myself, “Why did I just say that, she wasn’t wrong at all.” As time went on, the regret inside of me kept growing until I just couldn’t stand it anymore and I had to apologize. I went to her room and slowly opened the door. Feeling ashamed of myself, I kept my head down, and when I looked up I saw my mother crying. At that moment, I froze. It was the first time I ever saw my mother cry, and I was the one who