Note: "Russell's Ken-Bun-Ki" is a series of articles I wrote for my Japanese City Hall newsletter back in 1996. They were articles about life in America or life in Japan as experienced by an American. This one is from September 5, 1996.
I meant to post it last week but I have had computer problems, and then I forgot. Sorry!
The other day I saw Disney's newest movie, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." The hero is a young man named Quasimodo who has an ugly outer countenance but a pure heart. The source material is the French novel "Notre Dame of Paris." It is a very famous piece of literature, and has been made into movies several times.
I brought my 5 year old daughter to the film, but I think I enjoyed it more than she did. Children like "pretty" and "handsome" things. They judge things by their appearance. Their feelings are still not fully developed, so my daughter could not understand the deeper meanings of the movie. I cheered for the ugly Quasimodo, but my daughter liked his cute and attractive friends. After the movie, I talked to her about how brave and kind Quasimodo was. I think she began to understand on a child's level.
Unfortunately, too many adults don't understand this, either. In affairs of the heart, doesn't appearance play too big a part? I hear all the time "I want someone tall." "I don't like fat girls." "I want someone with a good education." "Family ties are important." etc etc etc!
In English we say, "don't judge a book by it's cover." In Japanese you say "there is more to people than just how they look." (hito wa mikake ni yorazu) I know it is not easy, but let's try to open our hearts to judge people by their character. I think that's a very important lesson in life to learn.
(click on the Japanese for a readable version)
Nearly twenty years later, and this is still true. (sigh)