Compassion for real people

Regarding Michael Hoffman’s March 3 article, “Solution to bullying lies in ‘resetting’ culprits“: The views of the Catholic novelist and thinker Ayako Sono, which are cited in the article, are a classic example of the kind of anti-human thinking that seem all too common in the devout the world over.

The bullying and other scandals in the Japanese school system have a certain amount in common with the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. In both cultures, cases of outrageous brutality have been systematically covered up, either because the perpetrators were more valued than the victims or because suffering in silence was considered somehow good for the victims.

Catholic schools as well as the crypto-Shintoist Japanese education system seem to value “morality” or “character-building” over what most of the world would call education. I have heard Zen Buddhist priests in Tokyo come out with ideas very much the same as Sono’s — that bullying is good for the victims and that the occasional suicide is acceptable collateral damage.

The problem with all religion is that it is completely idealistic and theoretical. The devout may “love mankind” or “be compassionate toward sentient beings,” but only as an idea.

When a real being needs a bit of compassion, many of the religious tend to bristle with hate and tell the victim it’s his or her duty to be sacrificed “to encourage the others.”

jim makin
chiba

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.