Tsunami ravaged country reminds the world of the chivalry it lost when it got on the fast pace… The Meaning of Being Human.
In Japan, there was calm: there wasn’t a single person to be seen on the streets (or what was left of them), beating their chest or wild with grief; there was dignity: disciplined queues for water and groceries, no rough words or crude gestures; there was selfless grace: where people bought only what they needed for the present in stores so to ensure everyone else could get something; there was order: while folks abstained from lootings, wild honkings in the streets or overtakings on the roads and highways; there was tender compassion as restaurants cut prices and the strong cared for the weak, while an unguarded ATM was left alone; even the children knew what to do, and the old did not get in the way; and the media showed incredible restraint in bulletins, without ’silly’ reporters sensationalizing or overstating the obvious, or greedy politician cashing in on the ‘cheap mileage.’
Perhaps most stunning and commendable, when the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly! Perhaps there are times and places in the United States where some of these mar occur, but on a national scale…? These highlights were reported on SKYNews shortly after the calamity took place, and they are true. Even now, one year after the event, Japanese citizens still continue to teach plenty of lessons to the world, like saying “thank you” to the world for support and contributions, sending help to other nations even while they don’t have enough to spend rebuilding their own, and many other such gestures.
A man reported once that “The Japanese people are amazing. In a mad dash to make my flight back to the states I left all my papers ( ID, passport, etc) in the cab that took me to the airport. When I got to the check in my whole life flashed in front of me..I had lost my ticket, passport etc. To make a long story short…the cab driver brought all my documents that I had left in his cab to the airport and had security page me. I never got to thank him. I would have been in deep dodo. I am forever grateful to him.“
Another lady said: “I had a friend show up late to the train to the airport. We took a cab and he risked losing his license and medallion to get us to the airport on time. Even politely asked some people in traffic to let us by so we could make the plane. Tokyo cab drivers are the bomb. We paid double the fare in thanks.“
These are not things one really can be taught – they are things that one is from the get-go. It is a culture, it is a tradition of the people. It is budo, the samurai way… or Bushidō, meaning “Way of the Warrior-Knight”. It is a culture of beliefs that defines a uniquely Japanese code of conduct and the samurai life; it is chivalry, a moral code that stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death. it may have been born from Neo-Confucianism, but it has been influenced over time by Shinto and Buddhism, causing the violence of the martial arts to be tempered by prudent tranquility.
It is what most of the people of Japan are even in the present day and age, and it is what a good portion of the world is yet to learn. It is what the martial arts is meant to be – not just collections of techniques that are intended to hurt other people, but respect and honor, and how to treat each other either at the best or at the worst of times.
Simply stated, Japan – the country, the people, the culture, and the tradition – is the very meaning of being a human being.