Fukuzawa's Moral Code
Supposing that we were adopting a standard of moral principles suitable for the present age, what should be the ideal of conduct by which to fashion our lives? This is a question that is extremely puzzling to the minds of young students, and one of which they will frequently question their elders. Our beloved teacher, Mr. Fukuzawa, being desirous to formulate an answer to these questions, requested us to draw up in writing a plan of moral conduct. We therefore drew up the following general sketch of a scheme for the conduct of life, taking as our basis the lesson of our teacher's own life as illustrated by his words and deeds; and, having completed our task, submitted it to him for his approval and sanction. We have given our sketch the name of Fukuzawa's Moral Code, and, as contained in the following pages, we commend it to the attention of students.
11 February 1890
It is a point about which there is a perfect unanimity of opinion throughout the realm, that it is incumbent upon every native-born subject of the Japanese Empire, without regard to age or sex, to pay homage to the Imperial House that has reigned throughout the ages and to show gratitude for it gracious favour that has occurred to us from its many virtues.
But when we ask the question how, in these days, and in what manner, the men and women of to-day should order their conduct in society, we find that as a rule such conduct is regulated by various systems of moral teachings which have been handed down from past ages. It is fitting, however, that moral teachings should be modified from time to time to keep pace with the progress of civilization, and it is but natural that a highly advanced and ever advancing society, such as we find in the world to-day should be provided with a system of morals better suited to its needs than the antiquated teachings already mentioned. It is for this reason, we venture to think, that it has become necessary to state anew the principles of morals and rules of conduct, individual as well as social.
- It is the universal duty of Man to raise his personal dignity and to develop his moral and intellectual faculties to their utmost capacity, never to be contented with the degree of development already attained, but ever to press forward to higher attainments. We urge it, therefore, as a duty upon all those who hold the same convictions as ourselves to endeavour in all things to discharge their full duty as men, laying to heart the principles of Independence and Self-respect, as the leading tenets of moral life.
- Whosoever perfectly realizes the principle of Independence, both of Mind and Body, and, paying due respect to his own person, preserves his dignity unblemished, ―him we call a man of independence and self-respect.
- The true source of independence of life is to eat one's bread in the sweat of one's brow. A man of independence and self-respect should be a self-helping and self-supporting man.
- Strength of body and soundness of health are requisites of life, We should, therefore, always take care to keep mind and body active and well, and to refrain from any action or course of life likely to prove injurious to our health.
- It is man's duty to live out the whole of his allotted span of life. To take one's own life, for whatever reasons, or under whatever circumstances, is an unreasonable and cowardly act, altogether abominable and entirely unworthy of the Principle of Independence and Self-respect.
- To realize the Principle of Independence and Self-respect demands nothing short of an audacious, active, and dauntless spirit. It requires a combination in a man's character of courage with fortitude.
- A man of Independence and Self-respect should not be dependent upon others for the determination of his own conduct. He should be intelligent enough to think and judge for himself.
- To treat women as though they were inferior to men is a barbarous custom. Men and women belonging to a civilized society should love and respect one another as equals, each sex realizing its own independence and self-respect.
- Inasmuch as marriage is one of the most serious' events in human life, great caution should be observed in the choice of a partner for life. All human relations have their origin in marriage, in the loving and respectful cohabitation, till death comes to separate them, of husband and wife, neither of whom should interfere with the Independence and Self-respect of other.
- Such husbands and wives maintain towards their offspring a relation which is both full of hope and natural, since there are no extraneous elements introduced into the family and since parents and children are wholly and exclusively each the other's own. The love that binds them together is sincere and pure, and the keeping of this love unimpaired is the foundation of domestic happiness.
- Children, also, should be trained to become persons of Independence and Self-respect, it being the duty of parents to take charge of the proper bringing-up of their children so long as they remain in infancy. Children, for their parts, should yield due obedience to their parents, and make every effort to fit themselves to be-come persons of Independence and Self-respect when the tin1e comes for them to step out into the world.
- The ideal person of Independence and Self-respect deems it incumbent on himself to go on learning even to his old age, and never to allow either the development of the intellect or the cultivation of the moral character to slacken or cease.
- Society having both individuals and families as its units, it should be borne in mind that the foundation of a healthy society is to be found in the Independence and Self-respect of the family as well as of the individual.
- The only way in which social life can continue is for each Individual to keep unimpaired his or her own Independence and Self-respect as well as that of others. This may be done by respecting the rights and happiness of .others at the same time that we seek our own happiness and protect our" own rights.
- To harbour resentment and to seek revenge is another barbarous and cruel practice, a relic of the Dark Ages. We should employ only just and upright means for clearing ourselves from shame or vindicating our honour.
- Every man should be faithful in the discharge of the duties of his vocation. He, who, regardless of the importance of trusts committed to hin1, neglects his responsibilities, is unworthy to be called a man of Independence and Self-respect.
- Treat others with trustfulness. If you trust others, they will trust you in return. It is this mutual confidence alone that can enable Independence and Self-respect to be realized in ourselves or in others.
- Courtesy and etiquette are necessary to the continuance of social life. They should be observed strictly, and yet with moderation.
- It is an act of humanity, and one of the highest of human virtues, to strive to extend to others that love which we feel for ourselves, to lighten the burdens, and promote the happiness, of our fellow-men.
- Humanity should not be limited towards human beings only. It should prevent men from treating animals with cruelty, and make them refrain from needlessly taking the lives of fellow-creatures.
- Since a taste for art and literature elevates the character as well as de-lighting the mind, and since it contributes indirectly to the peace and happiness of mankind, its acquirement should be deemed an object of the greatest importance for human life.
- Wherever there is a country, there is a government. It is the duty of the Government to administer the country, to establish and maintain military power, to protect the people of the land, and to guarantee to the individual citizen the in-violability of life, property, honour, and liberty. In return for these benefits, it is the duty of the citizens to give military service and to contribute to the expenses of the nation.
- If citizens are under obligation to serve in the national army and to pay their share of the national expenses, it is also, naturally, their duty and privilege to have a voice in the legislation and a right to control the governmental expenditure.
- Citizens of Japan, of either sex, should never forget their supreme duty to maintain their national Independence and Self-respect, against a11 foes, and at the sacrifice of even life and property.
- It is the duty of every citizen, not only to obey the laws himself, but to see that others obey them likewise, for this is necessary for the maintenance of the peace and order of Society.
- The number of nations in the world is by no means small, and they differ from us in religion, language, colour, and customs. Yet they are our brother. In our intercourse with them there should be no partiality, and no attempt at swaggering or boastfulness. Such conduct on1y leads us to despise other people, and is wholly at variance with the principle of Independence and Self-respect.
- It is the duty of the men living to-day to improve the civilization and happiness which they have received from their forefathers and so to hand them on unimpaired to their posterity.
- It is natural that men should be born into the world with varying degrees of intellectual and physical strength. It is the Province of Education to increase the number of the wise and strong, and to diminish that of the weak and foolish. In short, Education instructs men in the Principle of Independence and Self-respect, and enables them to form plans for putting the principle into practice.
- Those who share our convictions, whether men or women, will do well to lay these teachings to heart. They should also strive to spread them throughout Society at large, and thus to advance, hand in hand with the whole people, towards the state of greatest happiness.