by Joseph from San Diego

“Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue. - Confucius
Statue of Confucius (
Statue of Confucius (

A hero is someone who gives up their life for something bigger, selflessly dedicating themselves to what is right. Born into an era of strife and warfare, the philosopher Confucius strove to understand the world surrounding him, wanting to make a difference. Seeing the suffering caused by disorderly society, he realized that he must seek knowledge in order to bring change to China. Every day he worked hard to obtain this knowledge. From working in the fields for a living to studying and meditating for understanding, he was diligent. With this new knowledge, Confucius was ready. With initiative, wisdom and balance, Confucius went forth to change the world. Teaching others the correct path and setting a good example, Confucius was truly a great hero of his time.

By understanding the world around him, Confucius believed he could solve what was wrong with society. Through his teaching, Confucianism, he taught society how to act. First, he taught the importance of his teachings: “Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue.(Confucius, The Confucian Analects)” In other words, simply living life, surviving day by day is not enough – it is not fulfilling, but when one leads a virtuous life, they truly live. With virtue, one lives on forever through the good they have done. But virtue alone was not enough. Society needed guidance on how to act with one another. “The harmony of society is maintained when everyone plays his/her part within the larger whole.(UXL Biographies Online)” If everyone did their part in maintaining society, everything would flow harmoniously together. Instead of being selfish and thinking of personal outcome, one should be selfless and think only of the total outcome. In being selfless and pure, one can find true happiness; one can truly live life.

Confucius taught by setting an example for others. Through his life style, Confucianism, he showed everyone how to live a life without strife. “With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow - I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me as a floating cloud.(Knechtges)” To Confucius, living a simple, fair life is better than living an unfair, materialistic life because one day everything will be gone, “as a floating cloud”. When everything is gone, who will be there for the unrighteous? He never refused a student, "even though he came to me on foot, with nothing more to offer as tuition than a package of dried meat." He asserted that any man had the potential to be a man of principle. (Confucius Biography) Confucius believed in those he taught wholeheartedly. He believed that anyone could make a change, and it didn’t matter where they came from. Confucius gave hope to all, showing that one can live a fulfilling life with only the clothes on their back, and and by following the examples of others.

Confucius is truly an inspirational hero for dedicating his life to making a change and never giving up. “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do" (Confucian dialects). Confucius inspired those around him to never given up, but to keep on going, to “get up every time we do.” He showed that anyone can change, no matter their background, and most importantly, he believed in his students – that one day their deeds would greatly outstrip his. Confucius is truly a great hero of his time.

Page created on 5/31/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/31/2010 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.