Central to Confucius' teaching are relationships and social roles. There are five great relationships:
1. Father/ Son: Kindness in the father and obedient devotion in the son
2. Elder Brother/ Younger Brother: Gentility in the eldest brother and humility and respect in the younger
3. Husband/ Wife: Righteous behavior in the husband and obedience in the wife
4. Elder/ Younger: Humane consideration in elders and deference in juniors
5. Ruler/ Subject: Benevolence in rulers and loyalty of ministers and subjects
Relationships. Confucius believed that human relationships were the core of the identity to the person. In this he was partially right. People are their relationships in many ways. Even in this very individualistic society, no one is without relationships defining who they are. Guidelines in how to behave in these relationships is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, when you elevate one person in a relationship above the other, you lose the honest give and take that differentiates personal relationships from professional ones. The guidelines given by Confucius were quite typical of the times that he lived. If the guidelines are updated to be more observant of the equality of each and every person then they should continue to be used. Of course, the professional relationship will always exist in a hierarchal style.