“Dharma” is in fact the central theme of India’s national flag and is symbolized by the wheel which is placed on the white stripe located at the center of the flag. The idea of “Dharma” as the bridge between flux and instability on one hand and happiness and peace on the other hand is further symbolized by the green stripe above the center, which symbolizes flux and instability, and the orange stripe below the center, which symbolizes happiness and peace. Thus, the location of the wheel on the Indian national flag symbolizes the role of “Dharma” as the bridge between two contrasting and different human conditions.
Whereas duty and moral responsibility are key elements of Western philosophy and of traditional cultures such as Islam and Hinduism, duty and moral responsibility envelops and encompasses the entirety of Chinese culture by virtue of Confucianism and Taoism. As Lao Tzu famously said: “I slept and dreamt life is beauty; I woke and found life is duty.” The Chinese word “Zeren” is an all-encompassing word which accounts for duty, morality, and responsibility. Thus, the complexity and intrigue of Chinese culture is that one word encompasses the entirety of the culture, despite its richness and vastness. Moreover, the Chinese national psyche is also shaped by a sense of duty, as evinced by a famous Chinese proverb, which states: “The rice paddy is in need of cultivation 365 days a year.”
Arguably, Confucianism as a whole is predicated upon the upkeep of duty and moral responsibility both on an individual level and in a collective sense through governance and statecraft, and as a result, Confucianism is essentially the ethical and moral code for Chinese civil servants and government officials even to this day. But the sense of duty and moral responsibility derived from Confucianism is not limited to a national scale and scope. As Confucius said: “The gentleman has universal sympathies and is not partisan. The small man is partisan and does not have universal sympathies.”
In turn, the basic aim or goal of Confucian duty and moral responsibility is the rectification of social harmony and social order after its collapse and degeneration. As Henry Kissinger noted:
“Confucius preached a hierarchical social creed: the fundamental duty was to “Know thy place.” To its adherents the Confucian order offered the inspiration of service in pursuit of a greater harmony. Unlike the prophets of monotheistic religions, Confucius preached no teleology of history pointing mankind to personal redemption. His philosophy sought the redemption of the state through righteous individual behavior. Oriented towards this world, his thinking affirmed a code of conduct, not a roadmap to the afterlife.”
Thus, the non-ideological approach towards foreign policy and foreign relations on the part of the Chinese state has much to do with its Confucian foundations. “Xi thought” and “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” and “Chinese Culture” are all arguably synonymous with Confucianism and Confucian thought.
And while duty and moral responsibility are intertwined with meritocratic leadership, in turn, meritocratic leadership is intertwined with “directness” and the telling of “hard truths” to borrow from Henry Kissinger. In turn, both “directness” and the telling of “hard truths” require courage, and in turn, courage cannot coincide with cowardice. And as Teddy Roosevelt said in regard to cowardice: “Cowardice in a race, as in an individual, is the unpardonable sin.” Why good fortune is then intertwined with courage can be explained in large part by the sinfulness of cowardice.