Though tongue in cheek, Amy Chavez’s May 2 article, “ A nation of outstanding debts,” shows one of the more delightful characteristics of Japanese culture — and thank the Lord for it. Isn’t it wonderful to feel sincere gratitude for even the smallest gesture of sympathy proffered by someone else?
I really prefer that sense of “obligation” to the total neglect and hubris one finds in other cultures where individualism totally erases any sense of reciprocity. In such cases, one really has to believe in total detachment to avoid feeling hurt. I thank Japan profusely for having taught me, most delicately, the sense of giri or whatever the anthropologists care to name it. It makes one feel so comfortably close to others.
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