Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Japanese Virtue of 'Gaman'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Japanese Virtue of 'Gaman'

Article excerpt

A Christian Science perspective: The fortitude of the Japanese people is one of those universal, old-fashioned values that is serving them well.

It is a remarkable fact about Japan: despite the severity of the disaster, a culture of manners and civility is intact. The Monitor reported: "Stories of looting and opportunist theft, which often accompany disasters around the world, are not simply unheard of, they are all but unthinkable.... At the long lines for gas stations and supermarkets, ... raised voices or heated tempers are a rarity" ("Japanese character shines in the face of disaster," Mar. 17).

A core value in Japan is gaman, "patience and perseverance," which is expressed in a high level of consideration for others, even under great stress. It helps explain how this country recovered so dramatically from the devastation of World War II.

When I heard the early morning news of the March 11 earthquake and pending tsunami, the Second Psalm had already begun speaking in my heart. The Psalmist quotes God as saying, "This day have I begotten thee." For me it was a prayer that day in the middle of the fury of collapsing communities, and it continues to be a prayer for Japan: This day God is upholding, sustaining creation. This day in the middle of the homelessness, loss of life, and threat of radiation, God is the true power in the lives of His children.

Can we hear too often those biblical proclamations telling us from where each of us has come? "The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4); "We are also his [God's] offspring" (Acts 17:28); "Thou art no more a servant, but a son" (Gal. 4:7).

Mary Baker Eddy reiterates the point in the Christian Science textbook: "...Life is God, and man is the idea of God, not formed materially but spiritually, and not subject to decay and dust" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 200).

Each individual's discovery of his or her spiritual nature, as "not subject to decay and dust," is ongoing, not the work of a moment. Mrs. Eddy explained this when she noted, "It begins with moments, and goes on with years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self- abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. …

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