More than Just a Word … おつかれさま

Not Just a Word … a Mind-set

If I could … “inject” … one single word
into the collective conscience
of what may loosely be considered “Western Society”,
it would be this one –

お疲れ様 でした

The voiced pronunciation is … “Ot su kare sama”

– おつかれさま – and then, to denote past-tense,

でした – “desh ta”.

Not merely a Word … but a mind-set.

A Conviction. A Philosophy.

One that requires

Thoughtful Consideration,
and extends Kindness

for the work or effort that someone else has done.

It will come as no secret to those who visit this Internet site,
that it saddens and frustrates me
that people return here time and time again;
read, or watch a video – more often than not
espousing compassion or courtesy –
and yet leave without so much as a word of thanks,
or even greeting.

I am making every effort to be friendly …
to people who cannot be bothered to be friendly in return.
And it breaks my heart.

The … つかれる … “tsukareru” in the word means
… ‘to be exhausted’.

“Ot su kare sama” recognises that

someone else

has put in effort

from which you (in some way) have benefitted.

It recognises that … “I” … am not
the centre of the world – that the efforts
of conscientious people in this world
are not here for you to take, and use,
and glibly walk away.

Even if people come here to have a laugh –
– to mock that some pathetic, ancient man
is actually Stupid Enough
to espouse Morality and Manners —– On The Internet (!!!)

I put in about eight hours of work
for every single article appearing here – in an effort
to Try to edify, or challenge the conscience, of people
who have given themselves over to the Contemporary Nothingness
of the 21st century …

and even the fact
that the content of this site is a joke to you,
does not prevent some form of “ot su kare sama”
from you.

Less high opinion of “Me” … and more
humble appreciation for Others,

and this vicious, vanity-driven world Would Be
an infinitely more pleasant place.

At the end of April, an opulent house which is
set back from the country road in front of us, held
– on a Saturday evening – what (upon walking up
at 10:00pm to find out where the noise was coming from)
I was told was a 60th birthday party.

This included a White Tent, and a ‘live’ … “band”
to hammer noise into the sitting rooms and bedrooms
of those who happened to live anywhere in the village.

I have absolutely no concept of the amount
of self-venerating arrogance that is required
to be so obnoxious as to force ‘my’ noise
into my neighbours’ home –

but clearly, human beings who are so bereft
of consideration for others,
will have no capacity to even remotely understand
the sentiment behind this word:

that there are others who share this earth,
and who might want to live in peace
in their own homes …

and who deserve to be recognised,
and shown due courtesy and consideration.

Forcing one’s obnoxious presence upon any and all
who are within their immediate vicinity –

whether through house “parties”,
“boom cars” and other pathetic, attention-seeking vehicles;
or those who ride around on motorcycles
that sound like flatulating refrigerators

– noise is the method used by those who are vain,
to openly display their vanity to the world.

Our Part of the World

An American university professor last year expressed her belief
that my wife was the top expert in her field, in the world;
and that is why we are currently located on the west coast of Canada:
to help children who are afflicted with a specific medical disability.

We chose our current location because we were told
(and stupidly believed) that it was “The Bible Belt”.

An indication – we reasoned – that people living there
would have, at least, a moral centre.

Coming from a tiny rural location in Scotland where Shetland ponies
roamed the hills, and were not adverse to looking in the window,
our notion of a North American “Bible belt”
was appallingly far removed from the reality of what we found.

The third night we here, I was out on the road at 11:00pm
confronting an actual, real ‘drag race’ of punks who – apparently,
used the strip of road outside our house as a speedway.

And, of course, no one locally, sees or hears anything.

Drug deals were conducted at night, on the walking trail
of the mountain behind our home.
Headlights would meet in the centre at night,
while one vehicle reversed out, to be replaced by another.
I was the only resident who would stand there
and observe the ‘customers’ who left.

This “Bible belt” here, we soon discovered, features
bags of junk-food trash routinely strewn along the roadside
and dumped at ‘the picnic green’ a minute’s walk away;
‘jacked-up’ pickup trucks ‘burning’ tyres outside our gate;
punks ‘laying on’ the horn as they drive past;
and even physical threats – “You better get the f— out of here” –
uttered right at the front of our house in February of this year.

Going in person to beg help at the police office last September
resulted in not even the courtesy (much less professionalism)
of a telephone call – although we DID receive a letter signed in ink,
to declare that my wife was driving at 24 km – cycling speed –
over the speed limit, on a country road: That was important;
harassment and intimidation — not so much.

In 2012, laden with the sedative effects of cough and cold syrup,
upon walking over at ten o’clock one night
to have the partying crowd of that particular family festivity
turn down the pole-mounted “disco” speakers
that were pounding from the blueberry farm next to us.

A minute after the noise was turned down,
while leaving the property to return home,
I was punched repeatedly by one crazed punk
before a relative of the property owner interceded.

Even Wing Chun – my form of self-defence –
would serve no purpose as three ‘clean-cut’ adult men
– relatives of the thug –
took advantage of a pause in the attack
to look into my face and tell me that,
if I did anything to touch him (that is, defend myself) –

“We will say (to police) that you walked over
and hit him for no reason.”

It was not, however, the attack of the vicious youth
that brought tears to my eyes as I returned to our house,

but seeing that my neighbours
had been standing around … watching the ‘show’.

Not one of them lifted a finger to help.

Not one.

Here in the “Bible belt”, the expectation of moral decency
and common courtesy is Unreasonable;
whilst evil and obnoxious behaviour is evidently deemed ‘normal’
… or even a source of entertainment.

Those who live in a fantasy world here,
talk loudly of “Community Spirit” … ???

Vicious savages; harassment from thugs;
open drug-dealing, and apathetic neighbours.
Quite the Community.

The real tragedy is spending one’s life savings
– to come to such a place.

The vicious arrogance that was so openly manifest
in the “music”, ‘movies’ and television from, say, 1990 onward,
is now standard practice in a world that exudes

not consideration for the peaceful; but,
contempt for the peaceful;

not respect for those who are moral,
but ridicule for those who are moral.

“Bible Belt” ??? Personal Experience
and plain observation has shown that multitudes
– church-going as well as not – follow a bible alright:

but it is the one whose central tenet proclaims,

“Do what thou wilt
shall be the whole of the law.”

If I could inject one word into the consciousness
of those who have no conscience,
it would be


“otsu kare sama deshita”

not for the word …
but for the pre-requisites that are required
to voice it in its sincerity.

Sadly, in a world that visibly degenerates
to increasingly vicious and self-centred depths
with every passing year –

it is one language lesson
that I am certain will never be tolerated.

P Livingstone

2 thoughts on “More than Just a Word … おつかれさま

  1. Well, there is no claim to be a Bible belt here (not too far from where the Shetland ponies were?) and as it is mostly rural with small towns and villages, there is still decency to be found.
    So sorry to hear of the unpleasantness in your community, Philip. Is it the “You’re not from around here” attitude or that they cannot tolerate someone decent and upright and so different from themselves?
    Wishing you well and hold firm to your convictions.

    1. Ah Kate … My dear Friend (if I may be so bold) and Tea aficionado !!!

      Yes – It does indeed seem to be your latter suggestion:
      stand for anything other than ‘partying’ or vanity toys, and your company is not wanted.

      Whether this is a “North American Thing” – or generally,
      the results of the past 30 years of Hollywood steroid apes with guns and ‘martial arts’
      setting the example to those who are now “adults” throughout the World – I cannot say,

      But, yes, espouse anything moral, and you are despised. “Right” and “Wrong” have seemingly
      been re-defined: with nothing short of murder being deemed “wrong” anymore.

      Thank you, Kate – truly – it means a great deal to hear from you.
      Thank you again.

      All the very best to you,
      Philip L

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