Japanese and Compassion?
Japan 1600: the Legalists under the Tokugawa end centuries of internecine warfare between clans and unite Japan, with the Emperor a powerless figurehead. Four hundred years followed of oppression by sword. Enforced by a network of samurai and informants. The slightest infraction and instant and savage death would be meted out, not just to the accused, but his whole family would be slaughtered.
Katana and wakisashi were tested on live “criminals” and graded according to how efficiently they cut through living flesh and bone, according to the part of head or torso targeted.
Buddhism flourished. This religion which taught compassion through meditation and study; in which masters were revered and deferred to with slavish adulation. While samurai raged over the country, joyous in their butchery as they enforced the rule of the shogun or their clan.
Many samurai were Buddhists.
I will shortly be in a dojo practising the Japanese “art” of causing pain and harm to others under the excuse of self defence. An art developed by Okinawan peasants to protect themselves against the samurai, based on techniques learned from Chinese sailors
After almost 40 years of practising this Art I am trying to put it into context.
Understanding the Japanese?
And there’s their finesse! Their art and poetry which is so very fine, nuanced and spiritual. The simplicity and beauty of their homes. The incredible variety and cleverness of their food. Their music which fills and fulfils. I know many Japanese. Without exception they are delightful- witty, kind, so compassionate to me when I attempt to emulate their excellence in the art of Karate and fall about myself. Friends who have travelled to Japan confirm this.
And there is the katana with its horrifying perfection.
Post-Meiji, of course (1868) the pollution of western trade brought change – from battleships to Hello Kitty. From the ferocity of their attacks on Russia, then China, to Pearl Harbour and the whole democratic West itself. Why? Expansion, of course. Arising out of the deep-seated conviction of their inherent superiority in all things. Were they right about that? But they lost! They refer to westerners as Geijin – barbarians. Yet their hunger for western goods and western ways goes back to the demise of the Tokugawa. Assimilate and conquer perhaps. With Godzilla.
So we have our revenge. Mcdonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Ways to murder them with obesity and diabetes, heart and lung destruction and what is not destroyed by our fast food we slash with our dreams of a world ruled by the gun. And the atom bomb.