Monday, May 28, 2007

The Good Old Days and a Sense of Shame

Toshikatsu Matsuoka is not the first Japanese office holder in recent years to follow the old tradition and kill himself when he became embroiled in a scandal.

Even people who only vaguely know about Japan have heard of sepuku, which was the ritual disembowelling that Samurai did on command of their leaders. Honorable Suicide. Death to atone for bad behavior. The kamikaze of WWII were famous as well. It is no recent thing to make an airplane a weapon. The Divine Wind -- people who freely gave their lives to achieve an end; and thus kamikaze entered our language as well.

In the United States, there is no shame so great that a political figure will seek death. We have weasels instead. Perhaps there would be less corruption if there were more shame. It's something to think about.

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