Present-Day Poverty
From “Kazenoko Letter” No.415 - August 2012

  A member of the Diet pointed out that a mother of a high-income comedian receiving welfare payments was unjust, and received broad attention from the media. The issue of present-day poverty was covered even on “Closeup Gendai”, one of the programs on NHK, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan Broadcasting Corporation). We’re in an age of material abundance compared to the old days. Food products from convenience stores or supermarkets are increasingly being thrown away. What “poverty” is in such a society is difficult to understand.

  I remember a novel I read a long time ago when I think about this poverty. It was a short story called, “Gin no saji” (Silver Spoon) by Kansuke Naka. It’s probably a novel based on the author himself.

 In the story, a boy listens to his friend boast about eating an egg every morning before coming to school and returns home frustrated. Eggs were expensive at that time, and so he hardly ever ate them at home. He knew his family was poor, so he had difficulty telling his parents, “I want to eat an egg just once.”, but he ended up complaining about this due to his frustration with his friend. His mother listened to him in silence.

 The next morning, there was a white egg on the dining table. He cracked it open, shared it with his younger brother, put it on his rice and ate it. After he finished eating, he put some of the yolk around his mouth, went to school in a rush, and said to his friend, “Today, I ate an egg too. Look.” and pointed at his mouth.

 This episode moves readers’ hearts. When the entire society was poor, (before the rapid growth of the 1950’s), there was a kind of dignified spirit in this poverty.

  Hearts that did not yield to this poverty made people behave nicely toward others in a similar situation. I hope that the children of today also become the kind of person who does not wait to be given, but has the kind of spirit that can overcome difficulties and has consideration for other people.

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