Friday, March 18, 2011

'It can't be helped'

When I talk to my friends and family in Japan today about their situations, they all used the same expression, "Shikata ga nai," (仕方がない, "it can't be helped") ... Some things are simply beyond our control, and we can only find strength to suffer through them... That leads to another concept in Japanese culture of gaman (我慢, loosely, "endurance" or "perseverance"), of putting up with something unpleasant without complaint. Being known as gamandzuyoi (我慢強い, a compound of gaman and tsuyoi, the word for "strong", meaning having a high capacity for this endurance) is highly valued... Each person feels a duty to struggle on, and that they don't really have the right to complain, since someone else inevitably must have it worse.
Image source here.