2014-02-28

Positive thinking

It is about two weeks since I returned from a two-week stay in Japan. I was there from the middle of the last week of January through the middle of the second week of February.

A few days before my flight to Japan I received a piece of advice from one of my two haredi mentors in Jerusalem, Rabbi Naftali Weinberg. He told me not to say or do anything negative about anything anywhere, especially in Japan, as those who know me might see me as a kind of Jewish "ambassador" in that they might not see personally whatever I say or do but generalize it, and actually this is what I experienced this time there.

So this time I decided to focus on positive things Japan has to offer instead of finding faults with it and kvetching about them. To my pleasant surprise, this new way of thinking made me enjoy my stay in Japan so much. I immediately noticed at least two positive sociocultural traits there - order and punctuality. Many people living in Japan may take these two things for granted, but having spent years in Israel and knowing the situation in many other countries in the world, they are exceptions rather than rules in the world.

I liked this idea of positive thinking so much that I continued to apply it even after I returned to Israel. I have spent two weeks so far. Unfortunately, I have already encountered quite a few manifestations of what I consider the root problem of Israeli society - lack of sensitivity. But on the other hand, I have started enjoying (and appreciating) at least two positive sociocultural traits here - flexibility and spontaneity, which I never encountered during this short stay of mine there.

I may be wrong, but I consider myself both well-ordered/punctual and flexible/spontaneous, so I see no contradiction between these two sets of characters. Both Japan and Israel can be better places with more proper ways of thinking, and I only hope that this is not only my wishful thinking.