Loyal and Righteous Upbringing

In thousands of years’ Chinese historical progression, Hakka people have evolved into a unique migratory ethnic group. They moved as a group and because of living deep in the mountain, their traffic was quite inconvenient and therefore lacked the opportunity to interact and assimilate with other cultures. That was the reason why their traditional customs, language and bloodline were preserved. After a few hundred years away from their home origin, the Hakka people in Taiwan had gradually evolved into a new Taiwanese Hakka culture. This was because in the process of several migrations, they had to face new environment and crisis continuously. To survive, not only did they have to best utilize the advantage of being the mainstream of Chinese culture, but they also needed to absorb local or neighboring ethic group’s superior culture in right places at right circumstances. This type of continuous learning and tolerant style was exactly the unique cultural characteristics why Hakka people can preserve tradition and at the same time, face down survival and competition. 

The loyal and righteous upbringing of Hakka people can be summed up in the following antithetical couplet: First class people are loyal subordinates and filial sons; Two most important things are studying and farming. Loyal and righteous upbringing was to be a loyal subordinate and filial son at home, and put all efforts into two tasks: studying and farming. This was because Hakka people have long been migrating around, which cultivated them a deeper appreciation of the beloved homeland and fragrance of the home soil, thereby causing them to be even more attached to their home origin located in the Central Plains. Until today, after hundreds and thousands of years, the descendants of Hakka people are still thinking constantly of their ancestral home. At the main entrance to their ancestral halls and houses, the surnames and hall couplets must all be displayed so that one’s yearning for ancestors and homeland can be adequately placed. At the same time this was meant to encourage descendants to work hard, aim higher and not to forget who they are. Moreover the loyal and righteous upbringing, a custom that was formed back in the ancestral homeland, had also become the spiritual support that inspired them to overcome various obstacles and difficulties.        

The Hakka people called themselves ‘Central Plain scholars, remnants of three dynasties’. They regarded themselves as highly civilized Han ‘direct descendants’. In their heart, only the Huaxia’s (Chinese) loyal and righteous upbringing were authentic. Therefore, this type of loyal and righteous upbringing had become a glorious emblem for them, a source of unceasing power. When the Mongols invaded southwards, the Hakka people rose up and supported the emperor. They remained steadfast to the South Song Dynasty’s young emperor and fought against Yuan soldiers across southeast regions of China. When the Manchu invaded southward, the Hakka people again rose up and fought against the Ching Dynasty, becoming the elite troops of ‘Against Ching Dynasty, Restore Ming Dynasty’. Others lived as hermits deep in the forest and were uncooperative to the Ching empire. In Taiwan, when the Ching empire gave Taiwan to Japan, the Hakka people organized a patriotic army and fought the Japanese to death from north to south. They were much respected and feared by Japanese.           

Until today, the Hakka people are still proud of their ancestors’ historical struggle against Yuan and Ching dynasties, as well as against Japanese. They composed these valiant events into songs and stories, and eulogized amongst their descendants. At the same time, they also refined this loyal and righteous upbringing into adages to educate their young. For example: ‘To start from scratch is a person of ideals and integrity, always do what you can for your country is a loyal subordinate’; ‘fight all out is a real hero, to be patriotic is then worthy to be a man’; ‘rather die as a hero, then to live as a slave’; ‘rather live as a dog in peaceful times, then be a man in turbulent times’; ‘rather be trampled by a horse, then to live stateless’; andlose a good friend, sad for three years; lose the home country, agonize a lifetime’. These adages are all popular in the Hakka area. The agony of losing one’s home and country has been deeply felt by the Hakka people. Therefore they always bind themselves together with the nation, stand at the forefront of ‘protect homeland, fight against invasion’ and morph into the so called loyal and righteous upbringing.   

(Many thanks to Legislator Chen Yun-Tong for providing the information)