Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Forgiveness (and a Sort of Tangent)

Eiko-san is back in town. We are going to be having dinner with her tomorrow 12/15.
I will have my kitsuke lesson on Saturday 12/17. I will be learning how to do men's kimono (which is much easier than women's). I'm looking forward to both events.

I have to disagree with Sly that forgiveness is just mental. It is also emotional. You make a conscious decision to let go of old feelings and if you do it wholeheartedly, there's definitely an emotional release. A person to whom I did a grave injustice forgave me for it long ago. That gift still makes me weep, although it took me a number of years to realize just how precious that forgiveness was/is. I have forgiven some injustices done to me, too, although I have to admit that I still have a running "shit list" with a few names currently on it. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

One of the things I don't like about Japanese culture (lest you think I'm a crazed Nipponophile) is the unwillingness to admit a wrong and offer sincere apologies, possibly letting a chance for forgiveness/healing/resolution slip by. Oh, you could get a "boilerplate" apology, because that's what is expected in polite society, but you wouldn't get a real apology.

Lest you think I am unfair, there's stuff for which the US needs to apologize, too.

Anyway, in some situations, kata-ized behavior won't cut it, you need to offer a sincere apology.
A prime example of this is Yasukini Shrine. How the Japanese Tweak the Chinese
No, the Japanese really cannot figure out why this would upset anybody or why they need to offer an sincere apology.

We visited Yaskuni, three times. The first time, we went and toured, and there wasn't much of a problem, I did have a slight run-in with an older man, but nothing frightening. The second time, not much of anything, just a vague uneasiness. The third time, though, there were people selling shirts along the lines of "expel the foreign devils", not the tongue-in-cheek-ones offered for sale by retailers like thinkgeek, but far right propaganda and the like, and pretty hateful at that. My mom--my friendly, curious mom, who sincerely believes everyone can --and should be-- friends, started to wander over...but Chris was able to read enough of the text on the shirts and signs to realize what was going on and steer Mom away. We didn't tell my mom about it, although my cousin Matthew asked why we hurried by and we briefly explained the situation. Chris and I were both frightened and saddened.

Don't get me wrong, architecturally, it's a beautiful shrine. Philosophically, it is a horror--there are convincted war criminals (Class A War Criminals, some of them) literally deified within that shrine. While we were not disrespectful in our behavior at the Yasukuni, we did not pay any respects, say any prayers, nor make any donations (for temple upkeep, etc) at this shrine, like we did the others.

I will say I did see something touching during one of the visits. A frail, hunched elderly man (probably a former WWII soldier) was pushed in a wheelchair up to the steps of the shrine, where he slowly and painfully made his way up the stairs to pay his respects. It looked like an such an ordeal, and it made me think of the veterans I had seen in DC, who came to pay respects at various monuments, primarily The Wall. No matter who you are or what service you are in, it hurts deeply to lose a comrade, a wingman, a brother-in-arms.

Well, part of me was touched, another part was furious anyone would worship at a place that had enshrined a man who was a Nazi supporter and who ordered the strike on Pearl Harbor (that would be Hideki Tojo). I decided to go with the idea that he wasn't doing that and was praying for his lost companions, for whom he cared about and missed. Maybe we can --and should be -- humane.

No comments: