The Ideal of Yamato Damashii Enlarged
Japan, Christian, Truth, Buddhism, Wife, Relation
In this our time it is not only the alien from Christendom, with his hostile eye and mordant criticism, who is helping to undermine that system of ethics which permitted the sale of the daughter to shame, the introduction of the concubine into the family and the reduction of woman, even though wife and mother, to nearly a cipher. It is not only the foreigner who assaults that philosophy which glorified the vendetta, kept alive private war, made revenge in murder the sweetest joy of the Samurai and suicide the gate to honor and fame, subordinated the family to the house, and suppressed individuality and personality. It is the native Japanese, no longer a hermit, a "frog in the well, that knows not the great ocean" but a student, an inquirer, and a critic, who assaults the old ethical and philosophical system, and calls for a new way between heaven and earth, and a new kind of Heaven in which shall be a Creator, a Father and a Saviour. The brain and pen of New Japan, as well as its heart, demand that the family shall be more than the house and that the living members shall have greater rights as well as duties, than the dead ancestors. They claim that the wife shall share responsibility with the husband, and that the relation of husband and wife shall take precedence of that of the father and son; that the mother shall possess equal authority with the father; that the wife, whether she be mother or not, shall not be compelled to share her home with the concubine; and that the child in Japan shall be born in the home and not in the herd. The sudden introduction of the Christian ideas of personality and individuality has undoubtedly wrought peril to the framework of a society which is built according to the Confucian principles; but faith in God, love in the home, and absolute equality before the law will bring about a reign of righteousness such as Japan has never known, but toward the realization of which Christian nations are ever advancing.
Even the old ideal of the Samurai embodied in the formula Yamato Damashii will be enlarged and improved from its narrow limits and ferocious aspects, when the tap-root of all progress is allowed to strike into deeper truth, and the Sixth Relation, or rather the first relation of all, is taught, namely, that of God to Man, and of Man to God. That this relation is understood, and that the Samurai ideal, purified and enlarged, is held by increasing numbers of Japan's brightest men and noblest women, is shown in that superb Christian literature which pours from the pens of the native men and women in the Japanese Christian churches. Under this flood of truth the old obstacles to a nobler society are washed away, while out of the enriched soil rises the new Japan which is to be a part of the better Christendom that is to come. Christ in Japan, as everywhere, means not destruction, but fulfilment.
|Written By William Elliot Griffis|
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