HE As Harmony

In China, there is a word (or could be regarded as a single letter) called “He” that emerged more than two thousand years ago. As a representative of a special regional culture, it was created for the teaching of Confucianism – a traditional ideological system that took dominance all around the area. In the present world of communication, large number of Chinese words were translated, increasing the cultural diversity among the globe, and it is commonly accepted that “He” could be generally translated to “harmony”. However, in my opinion, this word should not be seen as that simple, because the cultural sediments behind it is so grandiose that people could not actually comprehensively understand what it means.

Traditionally, “He” contains the meaning of “peace”, which has the function of preventing military fights. Confucius used this word to successfully persuaded emperors from different clans to stop firing. It is also useful during daily life, for the communication to be effective and bring happy-endings. When I am going to solve some conflicts with other individuals, it is deep-rooted in my mind, reminding me of not acting violently. Moreover, “He” has its social importance, with various institutions including governments, schools, offices and hospitals applying it as a symbol of “harmony”, which explains why it is generally translated into this word. There, people could suitably confine their behaviors and do things they want to do within virtual moral standard. As a result, it extracts diverse aspects of life into a simple word, which could not be directly illustrated through translation.


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