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My mother blames me for theft of my wallet

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a university student whose wallet was stolen recently, and my mother blames me for it. I have no idea why.

My wallet was stolen on the train on my way home. I usually kept it in a pocket of my bag and noticed it was gone at the station’s ticket gate. To my surprise, I was pretty calm and knew what I needed to do, like reporting its disappearance to the police and having my cash cards in the wallet canceled.

My wallet was discovered that evening, but the money in it, which I earned while working part-time, was gone.

I told my mother about what happened, and she told me it was my fault for letting it get stolen. Even if I was too careless about where I kept my wallet, the person who stole it should be blamed first, not me. What’s more, the stolen money was mine, not my mother’s. I earned it working part-time.

It seems to me that blaming a person for the theft of their property is similar to blaming a person for being bullied. What do you think?

G, Tokyo

Dear Mr. G:

Your wallet was stolen, and then you were scolded for the theft. This is something like rubbing salt into the wound.

I hear some people sometimes say, “yabai,” when they eat surprisingly delicious things, although “yabai” originally meant “terrible.” I’ve learned that this word is sometimes used to greatly praise something nowadays. If this word is also meant for admiration, it may have a feeling of “I’m in danger of going crazy over how cool this is” or “I’m afraid I’m going to get hooked on this.”

I thought about that word when I read how your mother said to you, “It’s your fault.” But saying “It’s your fault” and blaming the thief are different things. The thief should be blamed for being malicious, while “It’s your fault” is a warning that you should have been more careful.

Not all people you meet in society are necessarily good. So I presume that she just wanted to warn you to be more alert and aware of where your things are.

For your mother, neither stealing nor being careless is good. So she said, “It’s your fault.”

As you were able to calmly take the necessary measures to cope with the problem, I want to tease you by saying, “It’s your fault” for having raised your eyebrows at such a trivial matter as what your mother said.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from Feb. 20, 2015, issue)

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