In Feudal Japan, a warrior – samurai – would, if captured by his enemy or in order to prevent falling into enemy hands, having brought dishonour on his clan, commit ritual suicide rather than live in shame or be tortured.
In modern day Japan, suicide is still seen as a way to end one’s life if one feels a sense of shame for being unable to support the family or unable to attain the high standards in life expected of them.
In times past, a politician or person of high social standing, a film or television personality could, overnight, see their career reduce to ruins. The sense of possible disgrace, public ridicule and personal embarrassment was self policing and helped to maintain a semblance of decency in society.
With the explosion of social media, reality television and the all encompassing World Wide Web, this seems to have got lost. There is an almost insatiable need to be entertained and humoured. When seen first time on film, a train coming into a station scared and fascinated people, but quickly became mundane when people realised it was harmless entertainment; a new medium. So has been the way with media and entertaining.
Things that used to shock became everyday and, like everything, if it happens in the media it filters down to the general populace. Sexual promiscuity is fine. I saw it on a reality show. Having no sense of embarrassment, along with no discernible talent is fine. I saw that on a ‘talent’ show. It is not just television. The get-ahead-at-any-cost mentally is reflected in the relentless pursuit of technology and upgrades to that technology, usually mere months after the last iteration.
Banks ripped us off? Oops, we will reduce our bonuses, sorry. No jobs lost; no grovelling apology. Politicians taking advantage of age old home allowance laws? Plenty of exposure, not one resignation or moment of contrition from an avaricious, cheating seat holder. It has got so that even those accused of actual punishable crimes, show no sense of shame, no covering up as cameras thrust toward them on their walk to or from the courtroom.
The things that offend are no longer a collective agreement; where one may argue that public nudity is inappropriate, another would as strongly argue that the human body is natural thing and was never meant to be clothed! Freedom of speech, of expression, the liberal belief of everyone has a right to be, is a beautiful and laudable thing. What happens when, as it seems has happened, we affluent, over fed, consumer crazed, must-have-it-now society of the West, get that? It is, nobody is seeing it, the absolute power.
Shame, self pride, was the unseen guardian of society. If it’s power has waned to such an extent, that the only people truly vilified are rapist and pedophiles, what is going to stop anarchy?