Skip navigation

Knowing the limits of greediness

Kawaraban No. 28


by Kenji Shimizu

There are differences in the way of thinking and customs of people from all four corners of the earth, though they have many things in common as well - and kindness ranks first.

As I am frequently traveling to Europe for business reasons, it often happens naturally, that I have to ask a favor of acquaintances, people whom I happen to meet or passers-by, and I am treated really friendly. In particular handicapped people and people new in town can strongly feel this kind of kindness.

In this regard it could be said, that the Japanese are not used to show kindness, or they hesitate as if kindness would be something very special. Are Europeans or Americans more skilled in interacting with people? Japanese are intelligent, hard working, unselfish, and have a wonderful culture, but in spite of that the Japanese reputation abroad is not good at all nowadays. I used to think, that independent of language problems their seriousness might possibly be an obstacle, but recently this situation has been revealed to me in a different light.

Somewhere en route the Japanese have lost courage and readiness, the most important attributes of humanity, because they are not compatible with the Japanese economic development. Kindness naturally develops from innate courage, and doesn’t need a special cause.

For 30 years Japan is undergoing a tremendous economic growth. Such as a car with faulty brakes, that got out of control, the Japanese bother foreign countries remarkably fiercely in order to sell their goods –the so-called economic war. In a word, it is a lack of kindness.

They say, that the European Union (EU) materialized among others reasons because Europe was intimidated by the formidable advancement of Japan.

I remember the words of a famous monk: “Japanese have to know the limits of greediness as well as the limits of freedom!”

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 02/2003