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Barry Eisler
Barry Eisler

Shame

I watch every day on television stories about how well the vaccines and face masks are working to protect us from the virus. I also watch stories about people in the United States who during this horrific pandemic disregard the science and facts and won’t get vaccinated or wear a face mask in public places.

It leads me to wonder why? Why are they like this? What makes them not want to stay safe and help keep others safe too?

This question reminded me of my trip to China 10 years ago when China’s one child policy was in still affect.

China with their population soaring towards 1.5 billion people initiated this policy to curb the countries growth by restricting many families. The Family Planning Policy was enforced through a high financial penalty.

I discussed this with our guide. I asked her why wouldn’t wealthy Chinese families who can afford to easily pay a hefty fine have more than one child? She replied quickly “Because of shame”. She told me her culture emphasizes shame.

Confucianism conceptualizes shame as an emotion as well as a human capacity that directs the person inward for self- examination and motivates the person toward socially and morally desirable. A fear of losing face and guilt.

I was reminded how in 2011 the Tohoku earthquake struck offshore of Japan causing a Tsunami that caused many deaths and the loss of homes and millions of dollars in cash and jewelry.

Two things stand out in the aftermath of this Tsunami. There was not a single report of looting and close to 100 million dollars in cash and jewelry was recovered by citizens who turned it all in to the government to be given back to the people who lost it.

Why no looting and return of property? again..Shame!

Shame is said to form the core of Japanese culture.

Now I had the answer to my question why?

The Americans who want to disregard others health and safety lacked Shame!

About the Author
I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Journalism and Communication. Retired Registered Respiratory Therapist. I have written editorials in newspapers. I published several short stories in Miami-Dade County Health Departments “Healthy Stories”.
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