2002 / 8月
Anna Wang /tr. by Josh Aguiar
At this point, after all the suicide attempts, her death seems charitable. But what is difficult to understand is, what exactly was it that pained her so? What made her feel so empty? What exactly was she trying to forget through substance abuse? Whatever did she want out of life anyhow? And, what can we learn from this tragedy?
The author of Conversations with God brings us a reminder from above. God created a world of polar opposites: beauty and ugliness, intelligence and simplemindedness, wealth and poverty, good and evil, life and death. It is the existence of these ubiquitous contrasts that allows us to distinguish and to choose our pursuits. Yet, the point isn't seeking to obtain what we feel to be good things, but rather using the presence of contrast to clarify our life experience. Results are never paramount, but rather the process, especially when it comes to our relations with and the way we treat others: love between parents and children, affection between husband and wife, camaraderie between friends, the care and guidance that teachers give students, the reliance and admiration with which the young regard their elders, sympathy for the weak. . . . These relationships are the best lesson, and selfless love is the source of personal contentment.
Unfortunately, today we often forget life's basic meaning. The kind of love that we seek is selfish love in which others benefit us. Our generation emphasizes fast, convenient, unbridled love and passion, but are these what our hearts and souls really need? Why is it that so many people search high and low, but are still unable to fill in the gaps in their life?
When love between men and women fails to yield trust, it's difficult to make vows that can last a lifetime. The most precious thing in marriage is when two people's mutual love makes them desire to make a lifelong commitment. From the moment they say "I do," they should be ready in their hearts and willing to take the bad along with the good. Why is it, then, that today's couples, free to choose their partners, find it so difficult to honor their vows? Some find it impossible to deal with hardship, and others, even after struggling to make it through a difficult stretch, are somehow unable to enjoy the sweet yields of their struggle.
The rising divorce rate and the increasing frequency of extramarital affairs testify again and again that these vows are losing their potency; either that or most people are just going through the motions, forgetting in the process that these vows are the only form of guarantee we have. Only when people can commit themselves for a lifetime can a marriage be preserved, and a family be blessed.
And so we bring you, "It Ain't Over Till It's Over: Rewriting the Rule Book on Marriage." This may seem old-fashioned in a contemporary world in which the divorce rate continues to skyrocket and the news is filled with reports of the promiscuous lives of celebrities. But because we believe that a happy family is the building block of a stable society, we hope that prospective couples will consider carefully that being able to take marriage vows is very special, and that maintaining them together is a blessing.
As a final note, from this month's "New Book on the Shelf," we would like to share with you a lovely poem by Yoshino Hiroshi on how to keep a happy marriage.
For two people to get along, it's best to be a bit foolish
It's best if people are not too beautiful, and that they realize that beauty doesn't last
It's best not to be a perfectionist, for perfection isn't natural
It's best if one person loves to joke, and one person can compromise
Before blaming others, it's best to reflect upon one's own behavior first
In making a point, it's best to be discreet, no need to harm others
Wanting everything to be just so produces anxiety, so don't overdo it
It's best to take it easy, and relax in the sun and the breeze
In this way, you can love life, and your heart will be filled with love
Life is good this way, and you can understand each other without words
That's what a couple is all about.