Aug 14, 2021
[Column] The ability to keep up with situations that cannot be answered

Monthly column in Asahi Newspaper Hokkaido version
August 14th, 2021. Noyuri Mima

 The Tokyo Olympics is over. I have never thought about the significance of the event and the meaning of sports as much as this time. Because of the COVID-19, I had a lot of thoughts while watching TV and newspapers.

 Do you read the newspaper when you think about something? Or do you watch TV or the net? Because of Reading this article, you must be a newspaper reader.

 One of the advantages of reading texts is that we can control the pace of reading ourselves. We can decide which part of the text to read, skip it, or read again. We can stop or interrupt reading at any time and reflect on what we have read.

 While it has the advantage of being able to wonder, ponder, disagree, and review, reading texts requires concentration and effort, and it takes time to master them.

 Compared to it, watching TV and online videos does not seem to require them much. It is a wonder even infants can watch videos without being taught. The image moves and flows on its own. It is rare to see it by stopping and returning.

 How about writing? In today’s world of advanced digital technology, we can immediately send what we think and feel through the net and reach a large number of people. Sending information without checking the fact or examining there is another point of view can have an unexpectedly large impact and can be fatal.

 Many children have difficulties finding the timing to get out of the online conversation because they are afraid to be excluded from the group if they do not write a reply immediately.

 The 19th-century poet John Keats advocated the concept of “negative capability” as an ability to accept uncertain and unresolved things.

 In an interview with this newspaper about four years ago, Hosei Hahakigi, a writer who turned from a tv director to a psychiatrist, talked about this concept as “the ability to endure unanswerable situations. One of the abilities of psychiatrists is to accept there is no immediate cure and to accompany the patient on the long journey, he said.

 Even in the post-COVID-19 world, changes in the global environment and widening disparities are likely to continue. The ability to keep up with situations that are difficult to solve. I feel it is important not to rush to judge values but to stop and think while continuing to do what we can.