08. おつかれさまでした … More Than Just a Word

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

Thankfulness,
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 old 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 self-centred,
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 selfish 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 such 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 domineering arrogance to the world.

British Columbia, Canada: Currently, Our Part of the World

An American university professor last year
expressed her belief that my wife and her colleague
were the top experts in their 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.

Looking Left

Looking Right …

[ Our experience in Canada is detailed in “A Countryside Diary” ]

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 one particular family festivity
turn down the pole-mounted “disco” speakers
that were pounding from the blueberry farm
(now, wonderfully, a Buddhist retreat) 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’ … and 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

おつかれさまでした

“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

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