by Rev. Shinmen Mitsugu, faculty member
Miyagi Gakuin Women’s College
This is a generation that acts as though power constitutes justice. Integrity and righteous indignation have vanished; discipline, peace, and justice are also ignored. With financial concerns uppermost, the college is being changed into a market that is geared towards career education, as though it were a job-placement facility. Meanwhile, due to the increase of needy families and social classes emerging due to this economic disparity, equal opportunity of education is on the verge of a crisis. The political economic world and the educational world have become one, transmitting a contentious message to society to “try harder.” Those of you who are being sent out into this kind of turbulent society are truly unfortunate. However, in a societal structure in which the ranking of human beings is based on ability, there is no need to be ashamed of the feeling that you as a person do not fit in or even a lapse into thoughts of self-loss: “Who am I? Do I have enough ability for living?” Rather, this is proof that those of you feeling self-loss to the point of depression, and are in pain and suffering, are persons who are living honestly.
When you are under pressure, thinking that your own life is not going well while other persons’ lives are seemingly going well and while enduring inner depression about your class-work grades or job-hunting mistakes, inferiority feelings, financial difficulties, etc., applaud yourself. You are endowed with feelings of self-respect and a will to live—something that will never just disappear. You should desire to demonstrate the potential for that strength to live that is within you. These kinds of feelings of self-respect, like a dim wick, are continuing to burn. Mutually, we must not put that out. Rather, society must be structured so that you can freely start again from any place and receive support from your surrounding environment. Unmistakably, you have power for living. It is only that it cannot be seen from the outside.
People often ask, “Who am I?” I think there are many ways to answer, but in regard to this question I think that through continuing exposure to various environments and the accumulative, alternating experiences of joy and sorrow, and through obtaining visible and invisible help from our surroundings, the self that has been formed as a complex existence, the person I am, is presently here now as a result of all that. And even if the success of one’s life is not enviable to others, success or eminence cannot be measured. For life always has depth, dignity, and substance. There may possibly be a one-time event or
encounter that can change our lives. It is important that we should change this warped society into a more flexible social system in which anyone can make a new start from wherever he or she may be. In order to do that, youth and adults must change. Persons with an abundance of experiential wisdom and social networks, and who are blessed financially, must cooperate with others who do not have these advantages, regardless of personal connections. This type of work will become the unseen foundation of society.
Let us join together with each other once again as equal persons. Together let us recover our respect as persons who have been deeply wounded. Freed from the ostentation of the world, let us mutually return to being human beings. Let us hold in common the thought that “you are hurting, so I hurt as well.”
From the viewpoint of the Bible, the pride and unrighteousness of the powerful who have no regard for the socially weak is basically an insult to God. As it is written in Luke 4:18, “The Lord has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner . . . to release the oppressed,” and Jesus Himself manifested that.
For Jesus, living was being saved from the pride and unrighteousness of the strong. Indeed, for that reason, rising above relations based on social position, Jesus was able to meet with diverse kinds of persons. And you, as well, are not excluded from that salvation.
Furthermore, Jesus urges us to stand up and consider not only ourselves but also those of whom we become aware. Christianity is for you who are suffering. You have an irreplaceable life, and I am hoping you will accept that kind of awareness as God’s calling. Even if you are under the impression that you are insignificant and unworthy, if you take hold of courage and trust and open your heart to God’s calling, you will be surprised by the discovery welling up within you that you are invaluable. (Tr. RT)
—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend),
November 2014 issue
Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko
新免 貢 し んめん みつぐ 宮城学院女子大学教員
信 徒の友 2014年12月 号より （川 上善子編集委員長要約）