Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Code of Support

Haunting him are the arguments against suicide that he offered to Captain Oshima.
-- John Hamamura, Color of the Sea

On the eve of the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it's worth a moment to ponder the human dignity of the tens of thousands who died in a flash of light.

In Japan, the Samurai culture lived an intense code of honor. They believed that once they gave their word, they would sooner die than break their integrity. In a very real sense, this ethos forced people to live honestly, since promises were not handed out idly. If they felt that they dishonored their family name, the shame would drive them to suppuku, a ritual said to restore honor by immolating themselves on the point of a sword. In the movies, you usually see a clean thrust and then the person committing suppuku leans over and dies.

Somehow, this code of honor has bled into American culture, as evidenced by the amount of suicides that occur every year. The number of people taking the "easy way out" is even higher among LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people), who feel that they have shamed their family. So they quite often seek a quick and relatively painless death.

In reality, such a clean death would only add more shame to the family. I first heard this concept explained to me by my 8th grade American History teacher. Suppuku is designed to be slow, tortuous and sure in order to reflect the deep emotional trauma. The blade was inserted at the base of the abdomen, and the tortured soul was to cut around the abdomen, letting the intestines fall out. Only if this process was completed was this considered an honorable death. It would take an incredible amount of willpower to be able to continue with the loss of blood and the smell of feces and blood exposed and pouring out on the ground. And then someone would have to clean up the mess.

But there is a much better way, a better suppuku, a higher one. Live with your shame. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Everyone of us is born different, and everyone of us has felt shame. If everyone who ever felt intense shame killed themselves, this country would be a wasteland. Have the courage to live with your shame and die an old woman or man from your body breaking down on its own. Make amends to those you feel you have wronged or have them release you from your vow.

Live with your grief. Pain makes us human. The shame we have felt enables us to minister to others in deep emotional trauma, even those who ministered to us. Your family is 5 billion strong, and never forget it. Our home is the planet we live on. If you feel you've shamed all 5 billion people on this earth, then I encourage you to be a walking example of temerity. Let's call this The Code of Support. Someone out there needs your help, and someone out there is willing to help you.

Besides, all extreme emotions fade over time if you are willing to acknowledge them and let them go; although, some stick around longer than others. You'll get over it. Wise old women and men get that way because they know what suffering is. It's hard to live 80 or more years without experiencing some negative feelings.

I was going to talk a little about the Movie Night I hosted for my local support group, but I can see I have go on long enough.

Be a survivor. Deal with it. Get over it.

Hugs and God Bless,

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