Japan, the world's third largest economy is struggling under the strain placed on it by recent events there. The sun rose on March 11, 2011, on the devastated island nation following the strongest earthquake in the recorded history of Japan. The 9.0 earthquake was followed by two-story high tsunami waves that washed people, cars, and buildings out to sea. As if these two occurrences were not enough, Japan is also dealing with failing nuclear plants, powerful aftershocks, and a failing stock market. Life in Japan is definitely difficult, and yet the Japanese people are showing the rest of us how to behave as civilized people.
Stores are selling food at lower prices, and vending machine companies are giving away bottled water. There are no reports of looting taking place in Japan in spite of the great needs in the disaster-plagued areas. This behavior is in direct contrast to the behavior in the wake of other catastrophes. We have watched as looting took place in New Orleans, Haiti, and Chili after national disasters in those places and have marveled at the lack of looting in Japan. I, along with many other people, thought it was part of the culture of Japan.
Thomas Lifson (americanthinker.com) explained in his article on March 15, 2011, that the "extraordinary good behavior" of the Japanese people is more than the "legendary politeness." He explained that it is "more a matter of social structure than culture" that is causing the people in Japan to act in a "civilized and enlightened manner.
"Many years ago, a worldly and insightful Japanese business executive offered me an analogy that gets to the heart of the forces keeping the Japanese in line, that has nothing to do with culture. `Japanese people,' he told me, `are like passengers on a cruise ship. They know that they are stuck with the same people around them for the foreseeable future, so they are polite, and behave in ways that don't make enemies, and keep everything on a friendly and gracious basis.'
"`Americans,' he said, `are like ferryboat passengers. They know that at the end of a short voyage they will get off and may never see each other again. So if they push ahead of others to get off first, there are no real consequences to face. It is every man for himself.'
Lifson explained that Japanese people "are well known to those around them. There is little urban anonymity…." He then described his introduction to life in Japan.
People worldwide could take a lesson from the Japanese and learn better manner. There would be far less difficulties between neighbors - families, communities, and nations - if we all used better manners and treated everyone in the manner we would like to be treated. Hurrah for the Japanese people who are showing us how civilized people behave even in times of great duress.