Thursday, May 14, 2015

Please think kindly of me

"Yoroshiku onegaishimasu" (宜しくお願いします) has different meanings depending on its uses. The short explanation could be found in the video below by Gimmeaflakeman:

A more lengthy explanation and even the etymology could be find here from What Does Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu Mean? So I don't need to do a lengthy explanation of my own (Yes, I'm lazy that way).

I've mentioned before how language reflects a culture and vice versa in my previous entry "There is no try", and this is also another expression that reflects that, though not many people think about it any more and just take it as a formality or a norm, but this expression has a relation to my previous two entries.

This expression could be taken as "Please be kind to me" or how my Japanese language teacher once put it "Please think kindly of me", especially when you are introducing yourself to someone. This, for me, is quite a deep expression. When you first meet someone, you know nothing of that person and you will always have some prejudiced thought by how that person appears or acts. When a person comes in, introduces him/herself and asked for you to think kindly of him/her, we may rethink of what we thought of this person.

We as human beings are naturally prejudiced. We will based on what is good or bad on our past experiences, what we were told, or based on some moral values and codes, your own or the tribe's that you live by. We can't help being prejudiced as we have lived by a certain standards for so long. The danger comes in is that when you do not realize it and it is alright to discriminate against someone or a group of people.

As in my previous entry "Be kind...", I have mentioned how we judge people based on our own standards. Knowing this, we may not want to be judged as well by the standards of others. It has to be reciprocal, we can't be selfish about it and forcing people to accept who we are but rejecting others as that would hypocritical.

Prejudice is actually part of our survival mechanism, for example: Our parents told us that the fire is hot, we will probably take that as a fact because it came from a place of authority. So even, when we have not tested it ourselves, we are prejudiced that the fire is hot and it will burn us. That is until we touch the fire and got burnt so we now know as a fact that the fire is hot and could burn us. It is a survival mechanism also to our way of life and the tribe's way of life. We have lived "this" way for so long and all is good and anything outside these norms, codes, and values could very well destroy us. So we will be prejudiced against any foreign ideology or a person that does not fit our moral codes. This is a good thing if it is true, the way with the fire analogy. It is a bad thing when people make things up to keep them in power or just playing on the fear of weaker people.

When you first meet someone, you don't know anything of their past or of their life. You will only be judging them on what you see then and there. It's like taking a picture. A picture paints a thousand words, but most of it would be your own narrative and may not be of what is actually happening, for example: We may see someone on the road for example in full running gear, but he's walking, we then ridiculed that person. What we didn't know is that he has been running for 10 kilometers that day and he's on his way home. We don't have that information, and we decide to ridicule that person. 

Another example: We see someone always coming in late to work. We will judge that person as tardy, lazy, and whatever things we have running though our head. What actually happened was that person need to take care of that person's family in the morning as there is little help. We may be privileged and fortunate enough that such things would not be our problem and our prejudiced mind would say that there is no excuse, one should come to work on time each time. Yes, that may be true as well in the corporate world, and it is easy to shift people out because of this, but do we really want to be that heartless? Shouldn't we try to find a better solution if possible? There may be no better solution and the conversation could come on the table when one has to make a choice. But before we have our own predisposition, we will need to hear the other person out first, the actual story and not the story that we make up based on our own standards or just some lame excuse that the other person made out. We have to have all of those information first before we easily pass judgment on others.

The following story is a good example how our prejudiced mind could ruin a person's life:

'OK people, take a look at this creep!': Man who mum shamed on Facebook because she thought he was taking photos of her kids... was just taking a selfie in front of a Darth Vader display to show HIS children

  • A woman has mistakenly labelled a man 'a creep' on social media
  • The mother, from Melbourne's east,  believed he was taking picture of her children so she photographed him and posted his image to Facebook
  • The man eventually contacted police to explain he was taking a selfie 
  • The father-of-three said he and his children were devastated by the ordeal

Before you judge people, find out more things about them, get to know them or at least about them the way they are not the way you or other people perceive them to be, find out why they do things the way they do. It may not be easy, we may don't want to be bothered and whatever information, little they are, is enough to stay away from that person or become friends or indifferent, or perhaps you just don't really care about being kind and don't care when people not being kind to you... Well, that would be your decision. But don't complain when you feel being treated unfairly by others, as you may not be fair to others as well.

As we are naturally prejudiced against things so it will take some effort to be able to be, how should I put it, "of no mind" (mushin). It will be very difficult to be able to see as the way things are, not the way that we are. Some people do have the ability to become a good judge of character without being prejudiced, but it is not an easy thing to do. Until you do, please think kindly of other people and ask them humbly to think kindly of you too.


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