Our wa is disturbed

Today, my wa is disturbed. Our wa is disturbed.

Wa? Wa is a Japanese term the meaning of which is morphing here lately, but originally it meant harmony or peaceful unity.  It applies to personal relationships, living environments, and even corporate boardrooms. It also meant peaceful community over individuality. It’s a strange concept for westerners to grasp especially those of us in the cult of individuality. 

Which I am.

I am all about the individual.

But I am also all about harmony between individuals. 

I made the mistake of turning on the news last Friday evening. Memphis Police released the Tyree Nichols video. I only caught the tail end of it, but it was enough to bring tears.

I am in a foul mood. 

The world, this country, seems to get uglier and uglier. I posted on Facebook a meme I made.  A few people liked it. One person commented. Nobody shared it.


I am so tired of hearing:

“I don’t understand why he didn’t just… I don’t understand why she was wearing… I don’t understand why they won’t just fix their own country…”

It’s always the victim’s fault.  Always.   

Can I be the only person that thinks like this?  Is it my anthropology training where we strained to understand the other’s point of view? Or my writer’s introspection? What?

I don’t understand why black people keep ending up dead in police custody, but I realize it’s a complicated problem.  I don’t quip about it.

But here are things I don’t understand:

  • I don’t understand why it takes less training to be a cop than a lawyer.
  • I don’t understand why it takes less training to be a cop than a teacher.
  • I don’t understand why it takes less training to be a cop than a hairstylist.

I don’t understand why.

I don’t.

But I sure as hell realize it’s a complicated answer.

We are broken.

My beloved grandson is half-Haitian.  Half black.  The worry for loved ones that so many African Americans experience is now my worry to share.  It should have been anyway, but now it’s close.  Real close. I fear for him.   I fear the culture he has been born into – the gun violence, police violence, white supremacy — all of this during the pandemic when we’ve reduced our social engagements — our opportunities to share our individualities in pleasant past times. I always did care. But now I shake. With fear. And anger.

We are herd animals. We need community and we need communities in wa while respecting individual differences.  We hear so often that the US is the greatest country on earth. If so, we are capable of figuring this out without blaming victims.  We can fix it without being insular and xenophobic.

My wa is disturbed today.  As it should be. How can we be in harmony or peaceful in these circumstances?  I don’t know.  Another complicated answer.  But shouldn’t we at least begin the conversation?

I wrote this a week ago when I was in tears. It’s a week later.
All but forgotten. We are broke
. –Connie, Feb. 3, 2023

2 thoughts on “Our wa is disturbed

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