Kuwaiti vs Japanese Morals

Kuwaiti vs Japanese Morals

Al-Qabas, Kuwait, October 7

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is racing against time in an effort to vigorously modify and update its school curricula, ensuring that they are fit for our day and time. All of this is part of the kingdom’s effort to modernize society and turn it into a leading Western country. Meanwhile, here, in Kuwait, things aren’t moving quite as fast. Our authorities refuse to understand that most problems in society stem from poor education. Education affects everything we do and how we view, and act, in the world. For example, the filth we see around us on the streets, in the workplace, and even in some homes is caused by improper education. Petty thefts and sabotage of state property are caused by improper education. Irresponsible and reckless driving is caused by improper education. Why is it that our students aren’t educated about these issues? Why is our youth not taught to respect other people – pedestrians, bike riders, and drivers – on the road? I studied for 16 years, worked, and bought a car, and no one ever told me how to behave on the road, other than teaching me how to drive and the meaning of some traffic signs. In Japanese schools, how to use public and private transportation is part of students’ core curriculum. Children, even after they grow up, are asked to clean their schools, with the participation of their teachers. The idea of participating in cleaning, of course, is not limited to teaching students how to do it but is rather about creating awareness of the importance of cleanliness and respecting custodians, garbage collectors, and home cleaners. It’s about spreading the spirit of humility and shared humanity. When I was in Japan I saw workers sweeping the gardens of the Emperor’s Palace. It turned out that they were all retired citizens who volunteered for public service instead of sitting at home in front of the television screens. The concept of public service accompanies Japanese children as they grow older, even at their latest stages of life. I sat on a Tokyo train in a reserved spot, turning on my phone after putting on the earbuds. The inspector came up to me and politely asked me to move to another cart, and excused me from the heavy fine, all because I was in a place where the use of a mobile phone was prohibited, even if the device is on silent mode. Showing up to a meeting late is considered one of the strongest offenses. Meetings start on time, trains leave on time, and people are expected to be respectful of each other. Perhaps there is a thing or two we can learn from Japanese culture and apply it to our own society. –Ahmed Al-Sarraf (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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