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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
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I heard a report on NPR the other day about the band of elderly Japanese people who are volunteering to do work at the Fukushima nuclear plant melt-down, in place of younger people whose lives might be shortened by the high levels of radiation there. The government and the utility company have not taken them up on this yet, but they might.

Wow, the Kamikaze spirit lives on in Japan! At least amidst the older generation, those who grew up during WW2 or not long after. This is quite an honorable thing, the notion of older people willing to cut short whatever years they have left, so as to keep younger people from losing a decade or two due to radiation-induced cancer.

Practically speaking, these old codgers are going to suffer if Tokyo Electric sends them out to nuclear hot spots in order to turn a valve or whatnot. Old people have weaker immune systems, which will be further compromised by the radiation exposure. They will drop pretty quickly from cancer and infection.

But, that’s what the “divine wind” spirit is all about. Life is a one-way mission anyway, and in the end, the only thing that matters is honor. A suicide mission for the greater good of the homeland seems a sure way to garner some honor. At least by old-school Japanese thinking.

Most interesting. I can’t say that I would agree with it, can’t say that I’m ready to sign up for a job at Fukushima (although I could almost qualify, being close to 60 myself). But being a half-ass Zen student, I must take my hat off to these people of the wind of honor.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:06 pm      

  1. Jim, I think the Japanese have a different view of life. Suicide has a different meaning in their culture also.

    We here in the United States seem to think that living at any cost is the ideal. I disagree. Quality of life is most important; if one doesn’t have it, then why prolong life? I see no point in it. My husband used to say: They wouldn’t keep a dog alive out of compassion, but they will keep a human alive no matter what. That’s become my criterion of whether I want to continue to live. I find myself thinking: Would I put my dog down out of compassion under these circumstances? If I myself am in the same type of situation; then why prolong life? I don’t intend to; makes no sense to me.

    Some time ago I had a dream where a favorite aunt opened a door for me. I knew if I stepped through that door, I would go on to the next life. In the dream I made the decision NOT to step through the door. I asked a friend about that dream–how is it the dream was telling me death was MY decision? She answered with her own question: Don’t we all really decide WHEN we will die? So, I figure when the time is right, I’ll know it and make the decision to die.

    And I’d say that that is exactly what the Japanese people are doing who volunteer for work at Fukushima. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — September 15, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

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