Brothers and Sisters of the Same Parents; Compatriots
This term originally referred to siblings in the same family. On the basis of the belief that all living creatures are created by heaven and earth, Zhang Zai (1020–1077) of the Northern Song Dynasty advanced the view that all people were brothers and sisters and all living things companions. The meaning of the term was thus extended from blood ties to include people of the same nation or state, especially those with a common language and culture. Sometimes the term goes beyond the nation to refer to all of humanity. By tracing common ancestry, language and culture, it rouses and strengthens people’s sense of identity and recognition of their own nation and state. Equality and universal love it embodies are a source of inspiration for humanity.
How could it be that one’s own blood brothers have no place to live? (Dongfang Shuo: Replies to a Guest’s Questions)
Heaven is my father and earth is my mother. Even such a little creature like me can find a place in their midst. Therefore, what fills heaven and earth constitutes my body; what governs heaven and earth forms my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all living things are my companions. (Zhang Zai: The Western Inscription)
Although people are different in many ways, they are all my compatriots. They share a common identity with me; how can I not respect and love them? (Yuan Huang: Liaofan’s Four Lessons for the Clan)