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Respect "I see you"

May 30, 2019

This morning I’m in Tokyo and received a text message from my 95 year-old mother who’s in the US: 

 

“You’re sitting very well on tatami, but put your hands a little higher like other Japanese men.”

 

This surprised me for two reasons. One is that I can’t imagine where she got the information. Where did she see a photo? Is she on Facebook? 

 

Anyway, she’s right. Although I did it okay in this photo, in the photo on my previous blog my hands are too low. My grandmother used to correct me too, because after many years living in the US I often held my hands differently from other Japanese. Instead of saying, who cares? I thank them for teaching me the proper way. 

 

I was also surprised that mom used the word “other,” as in “other Japanese men.” This shows that she regards me as a Japanese man. For a long time she would tell me that I was American. Of course, she was right. But I’m also Japanese. For her to acknowledge me as Japanese is a major change in seeing my complexity, my wholeness, my authentic self. 

 

The world we live in makes it hard to truly see another person in their wholeness by dividing us, classifying us, constructing artificial borders and walls, putting us in boxes. And we go along with this divisive way of thinking and acting by limiting and confining ourselves. But I think we all want to be seen as we really are, and that this is the respect we long for. This is why I practice the habit of looking at another person and saying, “I see you!”

 

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