Soapbox: publisher's perspective |

The Delights of Discipline

Soapbox: Publisher's Perspective | 2 October 2019

The Delights of Discipline

Have you ever been to Japan? No? I recommend it highly for everyone who was born and brought up in Indonesia. Why? To give another perspective to life:

a perspective based on discipline, on hard work, on order and on respect. There is a lot for all of us to learn.

Indonesians are very caring people and are very careful not to insult each other or be rude and offensive, which is an absolutely charming aspect of their character. But why does that not apply when they get on a motorcycle or in a car? Why is it acceptable to barge in front of someone in the road, which is more offensive (and more dangerous) than giving someone ‘the finger’?

Why is it acceptable to walk as a family through a mall at a snail’s pace, stopping and blocking others without consideration, when it is not acceptable to make someone lose face? Why is it acceptable to literally shout and scream at a lunch or dinner table when dining with family or friends, making life miserable for those all around when it is not acceptable to shout directly at anyone face to face—even when angry?

The Japanese have rules covering all these things built into their societal norms, and it makes everyday life much easier and more enjoyable! They are also fanatical about cleanliness, there is NO visible rubbish, waste or garbage anywhere even in the most crowded cities and malls. This is visually wonderful but also great from a health point of view, eliminating cockroaches, ants and rats.

It is a pleasure to board a train, bus or plane (all of which are on time) since the systems are clear and the people follow the rules. It is a pleasure to enter a restaurant, be seated quickly and respectfully and immediately given a (free) glass of water and a cleansing towel.

It is a pleasure to travel on the public transport, especially the undergrounds, which are extensive, on time, clean and easy to use. Then you realize that in Japan virtually no one rides motorcycles. Yes, the home of Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki has very few on their roads. They sell them all here, making themselves very rich and successful and us sadly dependent on noisy, polluting vehicles, which are themselves somehow responsible for our bad behaviour. Which is where we started!

It’s time to learn about discipline from the Japanese and see if we can improve our behaviour and our city at the same time.