Crafting Gentleness

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chiming in

I've been a member of this site for a while now, and my "best of intentions" syndrome has meant that I've written up numerous posts but have - for wont of a better term - found myself unable to publish because I find myself thinking more and more about a topic and as such hesitate too long with the submit button.

Instead of doing that yet again, I thought it best to talk briefly about what I do, and how I try to employ the concept of gentleness in my work, and what gentleness means to me - in the hope that I manage to hit the submit button before I become too critical of my writing.

Currently, I work as an advisor/negotiator in a Prefectural Governmental office in Japan. We employ just over one hundred foreigners throughout the prefecture and my job is to be an intermediary between the local government and the workers. This means it is basically a conflict/resolution role, as I do my best to have both sides understand not only the issues that face the other side, but also to make sure that all issues are seen in a cultural context.

My most important role is that of a confidential counselor to these foreign residents. Living in Japan can at times be no easy task. In the mid 1950's the term "Culture Shock" was created in an attempt to bring together the multiple symptoms that manifest in a person when they are removed from their normal surroundings and placed in a situation that is unfamiliar to them - which is a situation all foreigners face while living here. Almost everybody will have culture shock during their time in Japan, and a few of them may have or begin to show signs of developing serious mental health issues during their stay here.

To me, one of the biggest triggers I see that can lead to so many problems in life - as manifested here and elsewhere - is frustration and denial. If you are in a situation that you do not fully understand, and with little option available to you to change your situation, you rail against it. Alternatively, if you are in a situation that you deep down have issues with you can also choose to convince yourself that you are okay with it, and that you will soldier on because you are stronger than that. In the first situation you reject your surroundings, and in the second situation you replace your need to express/exert yourself with a need to conform, in the belief that conformity is the solution to surviving.

Both of these paths can lead to a fracture of the individual - either through emotion or through mental health. To me, crafting gentleness is about finding the balance, the path between the needs of the individual and the needs of the society around them. To strive toward gentleness is for people be aware of the background to a situation or a people, to be aware of the context of the actions that are available, and to be able to accept the rights of expression of self, even if that expression of self in others is something you have issue with.

With that, I seek to help the people around me understand gentleness as best as I can, and in turn I do what I can to learn more about gentleness myself. I hope that my continued reading of this site will help me in the path to further understanding.


  • Thanks for posting, Colin. I very much look forward to your explorations :) I just finished watching the final season of Angel ... lots there about frustration, denial, rejection, and conformity! :)

    By Blogger Anthony, at Friday, 15 December, 2006  

  • Hi Colin,
    I'm so glad you did chime in. Your writing really resonated with me. It made sense viscerally. Thank you for that.

    It made me think of that wonderful movie 'lost in translation' and how this can happen in a foreign country but can equally be present in relationships, families and work situations - where we allow ourselves to get out of context.

    Lots to think about here... thanks for making my brain work... :-)


    By Blogger Soooz, at Sunday, 17 December, 2006  

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