There is a close connection between the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept and the philosophical tenets of Confucius, which is explored in this research. The main objective of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is to craft partnerships that will develop win–win situations among partners, and a future shared among the partners [2
]. Similarly, Confucius is a moral philosophy that permeates the political field and social life. Both philosophies focus on the creation of a better society. Another point of congruence is that both the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind and Confucianism have ethical principles [2
]. The ethical principles of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind include justice, inclusivity and respect, while the moral principles underpinning Confucianism are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and fidelity [3
]. These congruencies form the basis of this research, and are used to trace the foundation of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind in Confucianism.
2.1. Confucian Virtues and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind Concept
The tenets of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind are based on moral grounds, which have equivalents in each of the five virtues of Confucianism.
Benevolence is kindness without expecting anything in return. Confucius defined benevolence as “wishing to establish the self while seeking also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged self, while seeking also to enlarge others” [4
]. This is also echoed in Analects 6:30, which states “a person of Ren (benevolence), wishing to establish himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be prominent, seeks also to make others prominent”. The innate nature of benevolence is exemplified by Confucius when he says “Benevolence is not far off, and for those seek it, has already found it” and, further, he asserted that “Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity” [5
]. Zhang [7
], asserts that Ren is the central aspect of Confucianism, and that it represents the highest moral ideal of Confucianism. According to Zhang [7
], possessing humanity is not a definitive representation of Ren, which also encompasses love and care. It is through Ren that all other virtues are perfected [8
The correlation with the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is that both urge us to ensure that we make the lives of other people better by spreading love and respect. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept postulates that no nation can flourish in isolation, and that each nation needs the input of other nations to flourish and to deal with global challenges, such as global warming and cyber threats [9
]. This postulation is consistent with Analects 6:30, which asserts that the prosperity of an individual is only possible with the prosperity of other people. As such, every nation is in a relationship with other nations. According to Zhao [10
], the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept seeks to foster peace and partnership, in order to engender common prosperity. This goal is a product of the application of love and care, which are subsets of benevolence. According to Guo [11
], say that the art of achieving Ren is to think of others in terms of what is immanent in our selves, which is definitive of the shared future.
Righteousness is a disposition to do what is right. The equivalence of righteousness is justice [12
]. One needs to develop insights and intuition, to safeguard the greater good through the application of virtues. To apply righteousness and its equivalent—which is justice—absolute awareness of situations precedes judgments and decisions. Confucius affirms the importance of righteousness by saying “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations. When there is order in the nations, there will be peace in the world” [13
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is related to righteousness, in that they both view singular conduct as being transitive to national and global prosperity. Confucian righteousness holds that the moral conduct of each individual dictates the moral conduct of the larger world [12
]. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept holds that it is only through individual nations working together through bilateral and multilateral partnerships that there will be common prosperity in the world [14
]. This will happen when each nation acts righteously, safeguarding the interests of the self and of other nations, which is the essence of justice. The conduct of individuals is the foundation for the operating institutions, which in turn define nationhood and, consequently, the nature of the world order. As righteousness is an element of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, so it is used to reach the end goal, which is an idealized global partnership that is marked by justice.
Fidelity advocates for actions that have integrity and are honest. Confucius said that “Fidelity is superior to strength, ability to flatter, or eloquence” [15
]. The statement implies that the attitude of other people towards an individual is based on how trustworthy they are, but not on what the individual says or portrays. Confucius intended this principle to iterate that people ought to develop being trustworthy, and to trust others as well, by acting with integrity and honesty in their relations with other people.
The virtue of trust is related the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept in that it is an integral part of engagement with other partners. Building partnerships and developing working frameworks are at the heart of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind. In the institution of these partnerships, countries need to trust each other, and commit to honoring the bilateral and multilateral agreements that are made [9
]. Furthermore, building trust will facilitate the assignment of responsibilities to different nations, enabling the harmonious execution of joint ventures. Confucius said “If the people do not find the ruler trustworthy, the nation will not stand” [15
]. This also applies to international engagements and partnerships. If there is a lack of trust among the nations, there will not be any meaningful multilateral agreements and partnerships. As such, the virtue of fidelity is an operating framework for the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept.
Propriety is the state of conformity to the acceptable standards that exist within the society [16
]. According to Confucius, character cannot be developed if no propriety is exercised. Propriety shapes public–government partnership, by developing loyalty and respect for the leadership of the country [16
]. The pathways that lead to the superstructure of society should focus on propriety, justice, rule of law and equality [17
]. Development policies that exclude propriety and essential components of the quality of life will cause overwhelming environmental, social and cultural devastation [18
]. Furthermore, propriety demands that those who are superior should exercise respect and consideration. Confucius exemplifies this relationship when he says “a prince should employ his minister according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with loyalty” (Analects, 3:19). The implication is that the respect and the kindness shown are reciprocal.
The relationship between propriety and the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is that propriety is the catalyst that compels countries to enter into partnership. The attribute of propriety demands that one does what is right in the society. Through the application of propriety, different countries will come together, and formulate strategies and partnerships that safeguard the shared future of mankind [16
]. A more positive future for the global community can only be realized if we rethink the strategies and objectives currently championed by our most powerful policymakers [19
]. Actions such as helping the poor, and giving support where needed, are a reflection of propriety. As such, loyalty to the basic tenets of humanity is a core calling in propriety, which should motivate nations to partake in the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind.
Wisdom is the possession of discernment as to the virtuous thing to do [20
]. This requires an individual to have the relevant knowledge and experiences that build the spirit of discernment. Confucius, in Analects 12.22, states that “Wisdom allows a gentleman to discern crooked and straight behavior in others” [21
]. The basic principles of wisdom, according to Confucius, are understanding what others want, what they need, and what is the right thing to do in specific situations. Gaining wisdom requires that an individual learns from reading, interacting with other people, and evaluating different cases and engagements. There is a need to practice wisdom on a day-to-day basis, in order to increase and manifest it.
Wisdom and the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept form a partnership, in that wisdom allows dispensation of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, with justice. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept accords the same status to all countries, whether big or small, and this is an element of justice [23
]. However, justice demands that countries that have more capabilities be more proactive in helping nations that are in a state of penury. According to the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, all countries should be treated as equals, whether big or small, enjoying equal rights, recognition and respect. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind advocates the strengthening of international organizations that are globally recognized. The United Nations is one such organization, and its General Assembly and Security Council are governed by global representatives. Through multilateral consultation, United Nations resolutions are governed by wisdom, and they can dispense peace among countries through wisdom. Such international organizations should pass more resolutions that are governed by wisdom, to ensure peaceful global coexistence. Through the application of wisdom, rich countries should aid poor countries—not through grants and tokens, but through empirical changes such as trade reforms, investing in structural growth, investing in inclusive growth, and stopping the exploitation of the poor countries’ resources by wealthy countries.
2.2. The Confucian Principle of Harmony in Diversity, and the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind Concept
Social harmony and the cultivation of the self are two of the critical pillars of Confucianism [24
]. Harmony is achieved as a social contract between all people in a society; accordingly, humaneness is a definitive attribute for relationships between people, and it is stamped by harmony [25
]. According to Yao [26
], the fabric of society is woven in the moral grounds within which it operates. Social harmony, along the lines of Confucianism, is a derivative of humanity. In addition, social harmony is attained at an individual level through systematic and consistent cultivation of ethics. An effort to achieve social harmony requires that there be both the cultivation of mutual relationships and self-cultivation, both of which should be based on humanity (Ren) [25
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is related to harmony, in that it is a social contract that is made between different nations, with a commitment to work together for shared prosperity. This social contract between nations across the globe is meant to foster social harmony throughout the world, eliminating unhealthy competition and the ‘cold war’ mentality [9
]. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept seeks to harmonize world governance into a single community. Furthermore, it seeks to democratize international relations, eliminating power interests and hegemony. These are the same goals that are sought in Confucianism, to attain a community of harmony.
In Confucianism, social harmony is attained through self-cultivation of individuals, so that they act in an ethical way and, consequently, the whole nation becomes ethical, governed by ethical individuals. In Confucianism, self-cultivation is the genesis of a fulfilling life and the achievement of harmony, which in return builds lasting peace and shared prosperity [25
]. According to Gong [27
], the human spirit should start with the self, then extend to relationships with other people, and then extend to nature. When one cultivates the self, one will have a better interaction with other people [25
]. Confucius’ understanding of the world is that, for world harmony to be achieved, the self must first be harmonious through cultivation, which will enable harmony to transfer to the individual’s society, and then to the whole world. Furthermore, it is through the cultivation of the self that individuals attain their humanity. One critical point made by [25
] is that Confucianism identifies humanity as the center of the universe, emphasizing that humanity is demonstrably the sustaining force of the universe. According to Confucius, human nature is intrinsically good, and people are born with the ability to determine what is right from what is wrong [21
]. Humans accept the good and criticize the bad, and this forms the moral fabric of humanity. Paul argues that a properly human conception of our humanity, our identities as both individuals and members of communities, and our role as good citizens, is essential for establishing the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind [28
]. If everyone was to act humanely, then there would be harmony in the world: this will be possible for everyone if they allow humanity to take precedence over individual will.
In a similar sense, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept calls for nations to act ethically and, as each nation act in an ethical manner, so the whole world will become ethical, and consequently will be governed in an ethical manner [29
]. Individual nations can also exercise self-cultivation, just as Confucius insists that nations have to exercise self-cultivation. Self-cultivation in a nation can start with the self-cultivation of individuals or the self-cultivation of institutions within the nation. Self-cultivation, using an ethical framework, will lead to these individuals or institutions instituting open policies, and seeking to have a global outlook. When nations and global leaders who have self-cultivated come together, it will become possible to build the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind.
According to Confucius, the world should seek to create harmony within its diversity, rather than trying to create uniformity without harmony. Berthel [30
] says that Confucius understood the importance of diversity, and advocated for its expansion as an ingredient for building societal harmony. In Analects 3:23, Confucius says that “the exemplary person harmonizes without being an echo.” In this anecdote, Confucius was implying that the perfect individual brings about harmony without necessarily trying to imitate others, but rather by standing out. Confucius also advocated liberal education, to bolster individual and societal understanding of its multi-faceted nature [30
]. The local citizenry is on the decline, and national politics are also becoming less significant. Furthermore, Berthel says that Confucian ideas of harmony provide an approach to traversing the new world order, through the multi-lateral engagement of different communities, to promote global diversity, which is both beautiful and rich. The flaw of Western countries is that they seek diversity domestically, while trying to dominate the world. As such, the goal of developing harmony is not realized, as the West does not seek uniformity among nations, but rather to be the dominant factor. Civilizations should stop seeking uniformity, but rather seek to coexist in their diversity, by eliminating supremacy battles and cultural rivalries.
The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is consistent with the diversity agenda of Confucius, in that it is also a proponent of diversity at a global level. In reference to culture, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept asserts that there should be respect for different cultures, and that global governance should facilitate cultural exchange among the different cultures in the world [29
]. Furthermore, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept discourages the trampling of some cultures by others, as this limits the diversity of civilization. Confucianism advocates for harmony without uniformity. The world is becoming increasingly diversified; the number of overseas students is increasing; international trade is on the rise; and the world is becoming a global village [31
]. As such, it is impossible to separate cultural diversity from the world as it is. According to the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, the world should embrace diversity as it is, and use it as a tool for building a more harmonious planet.
2.3. The Golden Rule and the Concept of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind
The phrase “Do to others as you would do to yourself” is termed the Golden Rule. Confucianism acknowledges that all people share humaneness, and have the capacity to act in a humane way [11
]. A complete human being in Confucianism can connect well with other human beings [25
]. And to be able to connect with others well, one has to be able to act with humanity towards others, and to respect their dignity, being careful to observe what is written in Analects 2:2, which says “What you would not wish done to you, then do not do it to others, because in the world with-in the four seas, all men are his brothers”. People are mandated to love other people, and to treat them in the same manner as one does in acting favorably towards oneself [22
]. This is because their existence is dependent on the degree of humanization of other people.
In the Confucian classic written by Legge [6
], there is an exposition of the idealized community of individuals seeking to preside over governance in the ancient Confucian world. Such individuals had to first advance their knowledge of life, and to cultivate sincerity in their thoughts. The musings of their hearts had to be sincere, and they had to have cultivated harmonious functionality in their families. Furthermore, Legge says that these individuals had to have cordial propriety within the community they served, before seeking to serve wider governance agencies, or preside over kingdoms. The logic is that if an individual is well-cultivated, they will have a good relationship with their families, and cordial relationships in the community and, consequently, they will have the necessary attributes to foster harmonious relationships in the kingdom.
The spirit of the Golden Rule is also encompassed in the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept. The Golden Rule insists on the benevolence of individuals and the reciprocal benevolence of the recipients. Similarly, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept insists on bilateral and multilateral agreements, so that a harmonious social fabric is woven in an organized society, which acts in solidarity [25
]. These kinds of agreements are based on shared benefits between the parties that are involved. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept emphasizes that no single individual can advance singularly, but rather that growth is interconnected and, as such, mutual growth must be sought. Lasting harmony and sustainable prosperity can only be realized when there is a commitment to reciprocal relationships [32
]. The nature of the partnerships forged across the world is an indicator of conformity to the Confucian Golden Rule. These interactions are manifested through social regulations and codes of ethics. Decisions that are made by individual countries have far-reaching consequences on the larger world. As such, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept is conducive to forging strong partnerships when there is a clear demarcation of roles in society, which in return creates a sense of responsibility and solidarity among the members of the community, leading to a harmony that is forged in the community, as efficacy becomes realized in social work. Therefore, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept follows the Golden Rule in its efforts to create meaningful partnerships.
One of the more contradictory concepts that seems to undermine the spirit of societal cultivation is freedom. However, Confucianism modulates the application of freedom in society, by emphasizing that it has to exist within the boundaries of social relations [33
]. Individual freedom does not exist in isolation, but exists in an amalgam of other freedoms, some held by other individuals, and others held by institutions. The confluence of more than two freedoms gives rise to sociality, marked by the disappearance of individual freedoms. The new identity classes freedom as ‘we’, eliminating personal pronouns and perceptions.
Just as Confucianism seeks to avoid the misuse of freedom, the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept also places a regulation on freedom, through the function of responsibility, recognizing that freedom has to take cognizance of the collectiveness of the society, together with its expansive diversity. This mandate extends to all countries, as well as the institutions that govern the society, and it culminates in what Confucius terms the Great Harmony [34
]. The problem with the world is that the essence of life is based on material possessions. Spiritual needs are seen as peripheral needs, and as a bonus of social life. Confucianism sees spirituality as a critical element of creating meaning and overcoming secularism. To develop Confucianism, it is important to advocate for self-development and emotional development. Actions such as knowing the self, self-respect and respect for others, and being honorable, are potent in the development of spirituality, and engaging in spirituality [35
]. They are also critical in the establishment of cultural connections between people. These aspects of spiritual and cultural connection are also part of the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept, as they are components of a free and harmonious society. The Community of a Shared Future for Mankind recognizes that, as much as countries should maintain their sovereignty, there should be open dialogues and consensus, in making decisions that affect the larger global community [9
]. It is therefore evident that the Community of a Shared Future for Mankind concept seeks to facilitate the Golden Rule by ensuring that there is collective accountability for decisions that affect the larger global community.