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Fellow student says I’m not worthy of my doctor father

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a university student in my 20s studying law, and I was asked about my father’s occupation by a younger student from the same faculty.

When I said he’s a doctor, the student, a high achiever, said, “I don’t understand how such a distinguished father has a daughter like you.” It clearly wasn’t meant as a joke.

I once wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, but I eventually enrolled in the faculty of law because my academic performance fell short of the requirements for studying medicine and because I found another profession I wanted to pursue as a career.

It’s true my grades at the university are under par, but being a high achiever isn’t everything, I think. I’ve seriously studied academic subjects that interest me and I’ve gotten good scores in those subjects, which makes me feel motivated.

My father raised me with lots of affection, and he’s never held it against me for failing to become a doctor. I think it’s wrong that being a doctor is automatically associated with greatness.

Whenever I remember that student’s insult, I feel bitter and start crying because I feel like the comment is rejecting my motivations for studying and rejecting my father.

J, Kyoto

Dear Ms. J:

Medicine and law are among the oldest academic fields. Medicine focuses on health and disease, while law studies justice. In other words, medicine is related to the dignity of life, while law studies the dignity of being human. Both focus on the fundamental truths of human existence.

Is being a doctor so distinguished? I can’t understand at all why that student believes doctors are particularly distinguished. Is it because entering the faculty of medicine is difficult or doctors earn a lot of money? The belief that doctors are especially distinguished beings is total nonsense. To show my solidarity with you, I loudly proclaim this whole notion is “aho” (stupid), to use the dialect of the Kansai region where you live.

In reality, some doctors are admirable, while others are intolerable. This is not limited to the medical profession. The important thing is what you do as a doctor, lawyer, public servant, artisan or salesperson.

It may sound cliche, but everything depends on how sincere we can be in pursuing what we are. That’s the only thing I can say to you.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from May 22, 2017, issue)Speech

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