Look up the definition of abide. Go ahead. No? Of course you didn’t, you don’t like to be told what to do. I’ll do it for you and tell you this is the topic of the post.
Abide = Accept or act in accordance with a rule, recommendation or decision. And the one I like most that fits into the Japanese culture, to endure without yielding, translated in Japanese as “gamman.”
I am not sure if you’ve ever seen the Coen Brothers movie, “The Big Lebowski.”
If not, I highly recommend it. It’s a great film. Of course I will not go into details other than to say the main character is all about “The Dude” and abiding to any situation. Over the years The Dude has even been compared to an enlightened Buddhist monk who yields to what life asks of him without adding anything extra by simply abiding.
As I watch the unfolding debacle (understatement) in the United States with all the bickering and back and forth about wearing masks, and following very simple rules I started thinking about just how much Americans complicate life. It’s not your fault, it’s built into the culture beginning with the individual me first attitude, sprinkled with ingredients like narcissism and entitlement.
Before you get angry and stop reading or unfollow me on whatever social media, hear me out. I was one of you. I grew up in the US with a full blown narcissistic, self-centered attitude. Thing is I never knew until I moved to Japan.
Let’s dig into the mask “controversy.” Why is that people do not want to protect one another by simply wearing a mask? Why do other societies not put up nearly as much of a fight or not at all? Individualism versus collectivism.
I want to bring this to your attention and say that all you have to do is change your mind by simply abiding as The Dude did. Don’t question it, don’t put up a fight, don’t call on one of the amendments to hide behind because you don’t want to be told what to do. This is for the good of the country and one another, collectively not individually.
Did you know that had every single American worn a mask without question the pandemic would be under control and the economy intact? This may or may not be true, but it certainly wouldn’t be in the condition it is in now.
Speaking from experience here in Japan, while the infections have gone up just a bit, it’s not even close to the extent of the US. The economy is humming along, restaurants, shops and this coffee shop where I am writing is open every day. Why? Because we are always wearing masks and disinfecting our hands regularly. Because we care about one another. Because it’s the morally responsible thing to do.
Think about worst case scenario. What if you were one of those amendment hiding, non-mask wearers who happened to be asymptotic passing on the virus to unsuspecting people. And one of the unsuspecting happen to be in the high risk category, say an elderly. And let’s say this person becomes very sick and dies. Tragic, preventable and you’re responsible.
We have a moral responsibility to one another to abide by what is being asked of us until this pandemic passes. No matter how long it lasts.
If The Dude can abide, why can’t you?