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Dialogue of the Body

Kawaraban No. 5


by Kenji Shimizu

Since ancient times, I think, the Japanese have had a sensitive awareness concerning the sense of shame. Nowadays however this sense of shame has decreased rapidly, and it is striking, how numb society is behaving. Actually you would assume that economic growth enriches the hearts of people, but in case of Japan the positive economic growth seems to have destroyed their hearts. When comparing the present situation in Japan with the wheels of a car, only the wheels of economy have become big, the other wheels, which represent the mental aspect, have become smaller. Hence the bad balance, you cannot go straightforward any more, and it is like spinning round.

Economic growth should make for improving the living conditions, but it looks as if economic development would only serve economic development. Manners are important to create a good attitude towards life. You only can look in amazement onto these days, where manners are missing. What has happened to the following sentence: “When your livelihood is ensured you will pay attention to manners“. There are so many people bothering others while meaning no harm, e.g. when driving a car or walking or traveling by train. On the other side there are only very few people, who interfere cautionary, when noticing something like that.

The congestion of trains during the familiar rush hours is as if you would transport chickens crammed into a basket. People might say: “In such a crowd manners don’t make any difference, and they fall short, when you don’t pay attention“. But on the contrary, it is exactly manners that are necessary, because it is crowded. Today we live in a world, where older people do not possess dignity, where older people are not a good example for the youth, and the youth does not respect the older people.

Lately I frequently hear: ”Today’s youth belongs to the ‚shinjinrui’ (a type of people, which emerged during the 80ties)”, but that is ridiculous. Aren’t they our own offspring? This shows the resignation of older people. In the past parents had close physical contact to their children, in doing so parents educated their children unmistakably by body language. This was called ethical training. Children were afraid of their parents. The reason was, parents took the education of their children seriously. Nowadays we live in an information age, where we are showered with information from television and magazines. This also has a big influence on children. Actually children are beings, who communicate with the outside world with their whole body, and that is, what they are longing for. But nowadays, living in an age, where we are overwhelmed with information for eyes and ears, we handle this information for the eyes and ears only with our head. Education happens in the same way, too. Isn’t the main reason, that our world has become insensitive, to be found in the fact, that importance has been only attached to the head and the dialogue of the whole body with the outside world has been neglected?

Exactly like driving a car, where we need theory and practice, it can be applied to everything. Knowledge alone is not sufficient, without experience you never really will understand things.

Depending on the depth of our personal experience we will learn to understand various things, and a new horizon will open up. Surely we will also notice matters in our environment, which we have not noticed up to now. And if everybody would follow this direction, this insensitive world, where manners are missing, surely would turn to good account.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 07/2004