A Healthy Society
Kawaraban No. 16
by Kenji Shimizu
For us as human beings we have to take care about many things. The most important however is to open one’s own heart.
Although we might understand this rationally, it is exceptionally difficult to care for strangers.
During the 16 years, when I have been teaching in Europe and especially in Germany, I was confronted with the individualism of the European people. Japan, on the other hand, is like a company, whose lifeline consists of company employees. The Japanese society cares very much for their company members, families and relatives, but is insensitive and indifferent towards strangers.
Some years ago I read an interesting newspaper article. One day a Japanese and his American friend went to the mountains for hiking. En route the Japanese suddenly mentioned that a lion is supposed to show up in this area now and then. He took a pair of sneakers out of his bag, and started putting them on. Laughingly the American remarked that by doing this he would not be able to escape from the lion. The Japanese answered, that it would be sufficient running faster than the American, whereon the American was greatly bewildered.
I think, this excellently shows the situation of present-day Japan. Economically Japan is a highly developed nation, but there are reasons, why you could call Japan a developing country regarding social aspects.
The Japanese in former times showed more strength and were highly sensitive regarding issues of manners. Since when might manners have deteriorated in Japan? Why have the Japanese changed so much and have become so weak?
Good manners should not depend on times or social factors.
Forming a healthy body and mind is essential for everybody, because it is related to the creation of a human and healthy society.
Haven’t we come to a point in Japan where everybody should be concerned about mental and bodily balance?
Therefore it is necessary to nourish the mind and thereafter its resistance as well as the resistance of our body. Nowadays it looks like as if we are no longer striving for a strong body and mind. How do you think about that?
We, who practice aikidō, want to preserve the tradition of Japan, and we go for it day and night, so that we will not to loose our pride.
© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 05/2003