[OPE] The rediscovery of human cooperation in Japan

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Wed Oct 28 2009 - 21:49:43 EDT

Despite our flaws, humans are worthy of trust

A letter from a reader that recently ran in the Koe (Voice) section of the
Tokyo edition of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun went as follows: The author
was going to drop off a letter in a post box, before realizing that he or
she had lost it. Even so, the letter reached the recipient safely, which
meant that someone must have picked it up and posted it. "I was touched that
a total stranger took the trouble to put my letter in the post box," the
author wrote.

Akiko Nakajima, 69, who spent a night on top of a bus during a flood caused
by Typhoon No. 23 in 2004, says people are worth trusting. This is her
underlying message in "Basu Suibotsu Jiko: Shiawase o Kureta 10 Jikan" (The
flood-submerged bus: the 10 hours that brought me happiness), her
just-published book from Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.

According to Nakajima's account, the bus she was riding became stranded on a
national highway in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture. There were 37 passengers on
board, and their average age was around 65. As the floodwaters began to fill
the bus, the passengers smashed the windows and climbed out onto the roof.
The water level kept rising, and everyone was soon hip-deep in a muddy swirl
as they stood helplessly on the bus roof. To protect themselves from being
washed away, they huddled shoulder-to-shoulder, their arms linked tightly.

They consoled and encouraged one another. As they stayed huddled together to
keep warm in the dark, a sense of solidarity developed, enabling everyone to
believe they were going to be alright.
It is well known from news reports from that time that they tried to stay
awake by singing together "Ue o Muite Aruko," a popular song known by the
title of "Sukiyaki" in English-speaking countries. Nakajima, who led the
singing, substituted the second verse with one of her own impromptu
creation: "Happiness is on top of the bus/ Happiness is in the water ... ."

Nakajima had worked for many years as a nurse. She recalls: "It is a given
that there are people in this world who are capable of sacrificing
themselves, without even thinking about it, to help someone else. I
understood this for the first time that night at age 64." Her words are
those of someone who survived extreme peril.

People are not always motivated by kindness and goodwill alone. We are all
selfish, and meanness and insensitivity abound in our society. Still, I
would like to believe that it is in our nature as human beings to want to
help one another. After all, we are supposed to have been born the wisest
among all animals.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 26(IHT/Asahi: October 27,2009)

I look up as I walk
So that the tears won't fall
Remembering those those spring days
But I am all alone tonight

I look up as I walk
Counting the stars with tearful eyes
Remembering those summer days
But I am all alone tonight

Happiness is on top of the bus
Happiness is in the water

I look up as I walk
So that the tears won't fall
Though the tears well up as I walk
For tonight I'm all alone tonight

Remembering those autumn days
But I am all alone tonight

Sadness lies in the muddy waters over my knees
When I get some dry pants on there will be peace

I look up as I walk
So that the tears won't fall
Though the tears well up as I walk
For tonight I'm all alone.
http://www.stinalisa.com/Sukiyaki.html (video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtXQ31F1A-k ).

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Received on Wed Oct 28 22:06:16 2009

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