US Could Learn From Japanese Grace

Less pushiness, more selflessness is the solution, says Nick Kristof
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2011 7:15 AM CDT
An elderly Japanese couple receives food and drinks from a distribution centre in the city of Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture earlier today.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Japan has long had an extreme dichotomy between its people and its politicians, and last week's earthquake underscored that fault line: "The Japanese government has been hapless. And the Japanese people have been magnificent, enduring impossible hardships with dignity and grace," writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. Kristof compares the small crew working to save Fukushima to Hachiko, the famously loyal dog who waited at the train station every day for a decade after his owner died. "The selflessness, stoicism and discipline in Japan these days are epitomized by those workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant."

"Japan’s communitarianism has its downside," Kristof admits, "but we Americans could usefully move a step or two in that direction." "Look, we’re pushy Americans," Kristof concludes. "We sometimes treat life, and budget negotiations, as a contest in which the weakest (such as children) are to be gleefully pushed aside when the music stops. But I wish we might learn a bit from the Japanese who right now are selflessly subsuming their own interests for the common good."

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