I don't usually write about bad things that happen here. Why dwell, and why dwell so publicly, right? Actually I don't have many negative things to write about my life here, but there will always be things that happen that piss you off, anger you, spark your sense of injustice, make you blink in shock, no matter where you live in the world. But there is this myth believed throughout the world, and by Japanese people themselves, that Japan is the most polite culture. I admit that there are so many aspects of life here that are polite, but not everything is what I consider polite. And politeness, when it comes down to it, is a relative idea. As I tell some of my Japanese friends who sometimes indulge in thinking Japan is more polite than America, or that their language is more polite than English, this just isn't true. Something is only polite if the culture agrees upon its quality of politeness. So there are many ways in English to be polite, and in English it's polite, even if we don't use the same forms of politeness that Japanese or any other language has. I can tell some pretty bad stories about impoliteness I've experienced or heard of here, but I'm really only going to talk about the incident that totally had me ready to chastise a teacher I work with yesterday.
Right now the eight graders are running for a sort of student council they have, and the ones who want to be the officers have to come into every classroom during lunch throughout last week and this week, and give a little speech. They come in with a friend (rarely will anyone be made to do something like this alone here, which is kind of nice) and their little friend gives the first speech to their classmates, talking about their good qualities and why they support their friend for this election. Then the student who's running for the council gives a speech about what they plan to do and want to accomplish for their school. This is all stuff I've gathered from listening to the speeches the past week during lunch. It's not difficult Japanese they're using, they're eighth graders after all, and you know, it's not as if adult politicians speak in an elevated manner either. Heck, Bush was so loved initially, I believe, because he spoke in a very common, down to earth manner that was accessible to your average person and made them think, hey this guy is just like me (even though he isn't and never was like an average person, and doesn't have their best interests at heart, poor fools).
So anyway, yesterday I was eating with the ninth graders when two of my favorite students, Sho (who I mentioned during one post always comes up with fun ways to use English) and Ryu (who I ran in the track club with, and who taught me kanji during breaks between sprints). Ryu was Sho's supporting friend, and he gave his little speech, while the ninth graders chuckled and talked among themselves at a reasonably tolerable level, though I still found it rude. Then Sho began to speak, and this group of ninth graders just kept talking more and more, and laughing outright about things, and when Sho began talking about what he'd like to do for his school, even this group of ninth graders *teacher* started cracking jokes, and stood up at one point, after Sho talked about how he'd like the students to become more serious about their studies, and said, "That means no more horny behavior!" and is thrusting his hips back and forth as he says it, which makes the whole class burst out laughing. Sho and Ryu stand through this, entirely mainting their composure. Sho tries to start his speech again, but it takes him several tries because more jokes are flowing now, and then he finally has a chance and takes it and just wraps things up, and I can tell he just did it quickly and cut out a bunch of stuff, and then before leaving he and Ryu actually thank the stupid ass slob of a gym teacher for letting them speak, and he sort of just waves them off and says, "yeah yeah, no problem, whatever."
I wanted to go off on this guy so badly. No wonder his class is full of some of the rudest kids in the whole school, who do terrible in their other classes. I've watched this man reprimand students, screaming in their faces until they flinch, because of things they've done that were offensive to him personally, and then he does nothing to correct his students from being rude while these two boys are trying to do something worthwhile and good, not only does nothing to correct his students but elevates the classroom's rudeness to a higher level than it had been. And he's supposed to be a role model? Give me a break. In a society of selflessness, I've seen some incredible examples of selfishness, and this is one that made me so mad, mostly because Sho and Ryu are two kids who did not deserve that kind of treatment at all, that I can't help but rant.
It's a good thing I joined the gym after all. That night, I needed to work out a lot to get some of my stress out.