Japan is a safe country now. 4-year-old toddlers walk the streets without any guidance from their guardians. Hitchhiking with a bearded smile warrants no danger – 4 successful journeys without delay. Guns are outlawed. Though the politeness may seem feigned at times, there is still plenty of genuine and sincere appreciation, consideration and curiosity. ‘Fake it until you make it’ they say. Japan has made it in my book. Or maybe it is just the dissonant contrast of honne and tatemae.
It’s been nothing but a blessing being in Japan for almost five and a half months. Patience and encouragement surround every conversation and interaction. Their acceptance of my mistakes have allowed me to remain comfortable with the process of learning and growing. Praised once as the best grass-cutter, I cut Okaasan’s precious vine that took over a year to grow – she shrieked in disbelief when I told her but quickly found her composure. I drove all the way to Nago to pick up tofu and forgot to bring the empty containers back – Otousan simply chuckled when I admitted my mistake. One award remains: best esa-maker.
Forget the heinous crimes you witnessed with your eyes during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia. These are different people now. The world is different now. How can we change if we hold on to the past and along with it the misery, the fear and the torment? Everyone deserves a chance to realize their wrongdoing and to move forward.
What would the world be like if we didn’t teach our children about slavery, genocide and terrorist attacks? And rather we taught them utopias where kids of different color played happily on the same playground? A story completely untrue but better than our past?Would history repeat itself or would the world be liberated? Would the children create a new truth?
“To forget is the secret to eternal youth. One grows old through memory. There’s much too little forgetting.” – Erich Maria Remarque
Remember the good, forget the bad. And remember, we are all the same. Inside each of us lies the capacity to hate and the capacity to love.
“All people are the same; only their habits differ.”- Confucius