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I’m still shocked by ISIL’s cruelty to hostages

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a university student in my 20s, and I was so shocked by the Japanese hostage crisis involving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that I haven’t been able to get over it.

Sometimes I find myself thinking about all the terrible things that happened to the hostages. When I do, tears well up in my eyes. People across the world, including Muslim people, prayed for the safety of the hostages, while some people ruthlessly said it was their own fault and they should suffer the consequences. When I heard that some people feel that way, I felt I couldn’t understand human beings.

What is religion? What is human nature? Why can’t we eliminate cruel wars? When I think about it all, I can’t stand the current situation. I’m also really sad and frustrated.

I’ve never expressed my feelings, which I think are too vague and serious, about all this to other people. The media will probably stop reporting on the incident sooner or later. And I’ll probably think of it less and less and begin living calmly again without caring so much about it.

Despite thinking I can get over it at some point, I’ve decided to write to you now. How can I cope with my anguish?

N, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. N:

Something didn’t directly happen to you, but you’ve been very distressed by it. If there were more kind people like you, this world would be a better place to live.

I also believed that the government considers human life to be of paramount importance and would act appropriately, so I followed its efforts, expecting to hear good news. But things that we cannot imagine presumably occurred, leading to that sad outcome.

You’re a nice person because you’re distressed and feel great sadness over this. Some people may be saved only because there are people like you. So keep hold of your kindness and go forward.

If there’s something we can do now, I believe it’s to think about how we can prevent these things from happening again.

In Japan, there was no major war for more than 200 years during the Edo period (1603-1867). Nor has Japan waged war for 70 years since the end of World War II. Such countries are very rare.

But Japan’s communal sense of pacifism doesn’t work in many countries. So I hope you will earnestly look, learn and feel how and where the world is moving while you are young. Why not turn your sadness into the power of thinking about peace, and start doing whatever small things you can to contribute to peace in the world?

Akemi Masuda, sports commentator

(from March 10, 2015, issue)

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