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TROUBLESHOOTER / I have no patience with people who violate rules

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company employee in my 40s. I can’t forgive anyone who violates rules and etiquette.

I always think about how to chastise such people. For example, if I see a cyclist ignoring a stop sign and riding through the intersection, I cannot forgive them. Thus, I always consider what the most effective way to punish them would be if they hit me.

I also cannot forgive violators of good manners. If I see people cutting in line, I tell them off. One day, I had a quarrel with some young people who wouldn’t move from around the door of a train, stopping others from getting off. Finally we had to call station staff.

As I want to behave in the right way, I always stop my bicycle at stop signs and check left and right. I give my seat to expectant mothers and the elderly, even when I am not in a priority seat.

However, I sometimes feel it’s tiresome to think this way. I think perhaps I am running a great risk, because young people these days often get upset suddenly. Please advise me on how to live peacefully.

C, Tokyo

Dear Ms C:

Hmm. You are a contemporary implementor of justice. You always behave properly, and don’t forgive any small mistakes. You say that you always think about how to respond most effectively if the cyclist hits you. What is that? To be honest, I’m scared. However, no one can object to you because your argument is a sound one.

The problem is that you feel anxious. Always thinking about rule violations is tiresome, dangerous and not peaceful.

You are an implementor of justice, so I say you should thoroughly carry out your policy. But you are exhausted, aren’t you? That means, I think, that you are also human.

To solve your exhaustion, I recommend you trust others a little bit more. It is true that many people violate rules. However, you could also say that on average a lot of people keep the rules. That is why society runs along peacefully, isn’t it?

When I see how society is working as a whole, I feel you can trust people. You are focusing on rule violations, but why don’t you turn your tender gaze toward having faith in other humans? It may be too optimistic a viewpoint, but I feel it is important to hold this idea in some way, which leads to a peaceful life.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Oct. 8, 2018, issue)Speech

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