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Kawaraban No. 40


by Kenji Shimizu

Recently after practice in the dōjō I gave my son (1st year high school, 16 years) a sermon on several issues. “You are still showing this attitude of protest; it looks as if you would not understand the feelings of your parents, who are telling you this for your own good”, I said. My son dropped his head, but his answer to me was: “Father, do you really understand the feelings of your child?” That was a full point for him. I did not reply: “That might be the case”, instead I had to smile bitterly deep inside. Children grow up faster than the parents imagine. Normally you tend not to consider much of your child’s standpoint, but this time it caused me to reflect.

On the other hand, and that is valid all over the world, if parents do not educate their children strictly, the children will feel ashamed later on. The parents bear the responsibility to teach their children the rules of social conduct insistently, even if the children dislike it.

Today we have enough food and clothing, but manners have decayed. I would like the parents to bear more responsibility. In the animal world you will find a wonderful bond of love between parents and the hatchlings (during breeding). That is strictness, that embodies love. With regard to modern Japan people do not understand, that strictness resulting from true love is essential for child education.

In the publication by Nitobe Inazō (1862-1933) it is written “…in former times the main objective of education of young men was character building”. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge was despised in bushidō. Knowledge was not primarily the objective, but a means of achieving wisdom. Let’s have a look at education in today’s Japan. There is no ethical training, neither courage nor spiritual calmness are imparted, and future is discussed only from the standpoint of knowledge. Today’s media are talking about these effects. Accordingly it is poisonous for a society to give knowledge top priority.

The bushidō way was to lead a tough and at the same time simple life. There was no consideration of win or loss, you rather considered shortage with pride. ‘Shashi’ (shashi = usage exceeding necessities of life and being beyond one’s position) was considered a maximum threat, because it had an influence on the character. In terms of the spirit of bushidō, people did not attach importance to money or all, what was related to money. As a result, bushidō was spared of numerous vices, which had their roots in money.

Thus it is a pity that miserable politics of corruption prevail nowadays. From now on we adults need a training, which helps us to overcome ourselves to teach the Japanese youth proper social behavior.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 03/2004