Three Days Three Quotes Challenge: Day 3

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Yoshida Shōin

Even if my body decays on the fields of Musashi, my Japanese soul will live forever.

This is a quote by Yoshida Shōin, a Samurai and an intellectual during the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate.  He was against the policy of national isolation, put in place by the Shogunate, and believed it was essential to incorporate modern advances while holding on to traditional values.

Shōin was only 29 years old, when he was executed for plotting rebellion. However, the Shogunate fell a few years later and Japan was set upon a path of transformation, from a feudal society into the modern state of today, partly due to the efforts of his famous pupil, Takasugi Shinsaku.

Here is the Japanese version of the quote.

Mi wa tatoi
Musashi no nobe ni
Kuchinu to mo
Todome okamashi
Yamoto damashii.

When I first read these words, I was instantly fascinated by Japan. Only a great culture could have inspired such noble sentiment in a man. I feel the same way about my own.

The words ‘Yamato Damashii‘ meaning ‘Japanese Spirit’ or ‘ The Soul of Japan’ were used as a tool of propaganda during World War II by Japanese nationalists. Even such a splendid belief can be distorted into an expression of self-conceit, by those who refuse to appreciate the world for its immense possibility and delightful diversity.


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Thank you, Nezel Yurong, for challenging me and giving me the opportunity to share some of my favorite quotes. Please visit her wonderful blog @ Purposive Writer. I’m sure you will appreciate her thoughtful writings.

Today’s Nominees 

  1. Surviving Japan With A Smile
  2. Musings Of A Whimsical Soul
  3. Subhalakshmi Gautam

Rules of the Challenge

  1. Three quote for three days.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you.
  3. Three nominees each day (no repetition)
  4. Inform the nominees.

Hard Choices

 

In the current partisan climate it is necessary to pre-defend our opinions, lest they be attacked. So, here are my credentials – a first time voter and second generation immigrant, trying to make sense of the sea of news and misinformation out there, to make an informed choice. Just so you guys know, being neither a writer nor an avid political enthusiast, I am not qualified to write this piece. I just feel the need to, and thanks to this blog I can scratch this itch.

I started with Donald Trump as I wanted to keep an open mind and give him a fair shake. At first, the Trump narrative was compelling. He seemed to be in touch with concerns of the working class and hell bent upon bringing our elusive greatness back. However, his narrow and exclusionist views are repulsive and irrelevant to our current predicament. We are constantly on the hunt for ‘the other’ that is just too different to assimilate or understand and he has succeeded greatly at giving it a face or faces. After all, it is easier to attribute our troubles to this other entity instead of examining our own deficiencies and working together to overcome them. Besides, he has failed to articulate any of his policy positions clearly. Bombast and bravado are entertaining traits, but I think they will serve us poorly in the Oval office.

I had been putting off Hillary Clinton, because there is so much history there. I no longer have that luxury. The Clintons are fascinating and there are any number of articles about their personal and professional lives. However, it is very hard to discern much about Mrs. Clinton. She seems to inspire rather extreme reactions in the media, except for a few pieces like a CNN interview with Carl Bernstein. I’m distrustful of extremes and absolutes. The truth usually lies somewhere at the center.

I admit to being conflicted. Her accomplishments make her in President Obama’s words “the most qualified candidate ever”, yet her character has been under siege since the 70s. Some of the earlier criticisms like ‘Why won’t she change her last name to Clinton?’ seem silly now and the more recent ones about dishonesty, not so much. I am in no position to judge and the only thing to do is to rely on is my own impressions.

Hillary comes across as a very intelligent, capable and result oriented woman committed to the greater good, even if it takes questionable means and a lot of secret maneuvering to get there. Perhaps that is what it takes to prevail in the political arena and perhaps that makes me a cynic. I do not know. Twice, my fellow Americans elected President Obama, who is pure as untrodden snow compared to Hillary and twice, he failed to see many a legislation that was dear to us materialize.

Hillary breaths policy and eats scandal for breakfast. It is time to elect someone who has extensive experience and knows the system like the back of her hand. Besides, men were given forty four shots at this job, why not give women one. During these troubling times, we need wiser heads to prevail.

Note to self: Seek forgiveness from the gods of writing for this piece and keep using lest till it feels right.

Note to dissidents: Keep an open mind.

Argument