Critical Thinking Session

Keeping or changing, which is better?

    The other day, one of our members told us about the graduation ceremony program of the school she works for, in which their graduated students must bow three times towards the principal, their teachers, and their guests. She thought it has no significance for anybody in the ceremony, while it's quite time-consuming. And she voiced out her opinion at a school meeting, but she saw a strong backlash against her liberal stance. When she asked why it was necessary, their answer was simple: "Because we've kept on doing this, and it's our school tradition."


    Last week, we went to Aizu on a T-CAT tour, and we stopped in at a local museum that exhibits Aizu Samurai's lifestyles and the history of Aizu Domain. We bought a ticket and entered the gate, a little excitedly, without having any knowledge about the place. Right at the foot of the gate, there was a wooden sign board on which six disciplines Aizu kids should follow were scripted.


Aizu kids' declaration

1. We will make other people feel comfortable.

2. We will say words of appreciation and apology.

3. We will endure with no complaint.

4. We will never act in a mean or cunning manner.

5. We will keep pride in Aizu and respect elderlies.

6. We will do our bests to realize our dreams.

We shouldn't do what we are not supposed to do, and we must do what we have to do. If it's "no," it's just "no." That's just how it is.


    To be honest, I felt a little sick inside when I read those rules. While I weigh in on some of those values, such as the importance of showing an appreciation or an apology, something just didn't click with me. Yes, I hated the ambience of authority I found in the declaration. Especially, the last part made me feel even disgusted, because I saw the worst end of Japanese spirit in it.


    My friend, the school teacher, had a good reason to claim, but other teachers didn't acceept, saying the same thing. "No, because that's just how it has been."


    Keeping old things is a fancy hobby, and remembering the past comes with love and affection for our roots. However, when we stick more to the past than to the future, it's not a good sign. And when we put more value on the future, innovations are appreciated. There are many things that we blindly keep and follow just because they are from the past, but are they all really deserve our respects? Future also shouldn't be underestimated especially when it's about kids.


    Kids are free from conventional value systems we adults blindly believe in, and thus, they are often rebeliously innovative. Let kids shine, so do our future.



1. Are there anything nonsense that we blindly keep or believe in?


2. What are the legacies from the past that you want to keep for the coming centuries?