Sunday, December 29, 2002

To be an adult; to grow up; to be a grown-up

As a 19-years-old who is to greet "Coming-of-Age Ceremony" next month.
Rather than thinking "year 2003 has already come!" like most of us do on the New Year Day, "I'll be coming of age soon . . ." is the thought that comes to my mind vaguely, just like the coldness of winter.

I've been thinking like being 20-years-old won't be such a big deal & event for me. Probably it's because most of my friends are in their mid 20's ~ 30's and I've been working with grown-ups for a long time.

But recently!
I've been reading your messages for my radio program on Coming-of-Age Day and seems like a lot of people of all ages and sexes, especially people of my age are asking this kind of question frequently: "Hikaru, what do you think 'to be a grown-up' is ? What is it ? What does it mean, 'to celebrate Coming-of-Age Day,' to you ?"
Reading them I realized I might easily give a crap answer unless I think through this question and prepare for the radio - so my brain is on full mode, thinking hard !

In America you can vote and smoke at 18; in most states you can drink at 21. On the other hand in UK you can drink at 18 and in Japan all drinking, smoking, voting and paying national annuity are at 20 . . .
Coming and going to those countries I thought when I was 16, "well, after all our bodies are fully matured around age 18~21, right ??"

Now at the age of 19, I think "in the mechanism of modern society we get to contribute to society from those ages !"
We all grow up in our mom's belly having meals free of charge and most of us are raised by others' money since we are born. Getting brought up, sometimes restrained by grown-ups around us, we are taken care by so many people after all.
In return we are giving them things like "hope," "disappointment," "happiness," "worry," etc.

And here in the mechanism of our society today it's likely "to be a grown-up" means, in simple terms, "not to be given so much stuffs by our surroundings" !

So (in this point) I think it cannot be helped the people around age 22~23 living with their parents, who just save up every cent they earn or just spend all of it on shopping or entertainment, don't feel like they are fully grown-up.

But ! even if you become independent saying like "I don't need help from anyone anymore !" I think you still need more to be called as a "grown-up."
Now here is the most important keyword - "responsibility," isn't it ?

Most people of my age wrote to me like "I think 'to be a grown-up = to be given legal freedom and responsibility at the same time,' but actually I don't feel it so much."
You see, it's easy to understand what "legal freedom" is, but as for "responsibility," even people older than me wrote little about it.
Just a few people gave some examples like "your name will be made public if you'd commit any crime."

For me "social responsibility" means . . . the consciousness that I myself have a certain influence on society, whichever it would be - good or bad ! !
I think it's it.
It's a terrific thing, you see, you may not be able to move an inch because of that consciousness.
Ever since I was 16 I've been struggling with this responsibility given before I get complete freedom.
I'll surely end up on the front page of newspapers if I'd commit any crime even I'm under age(laugh).
So I've been longing for being given the freedom to move, here in Japan, both by surroundings and law ! !

To have a strong sense of responsibility, it may be considered as too self-conscious in a sense, for it means you think you yourself owe a duty to contribute to others in any shape or form.
But now I often see the people escaping their responsibility by saying modestly like "I'm useless," "nothing will be changed if I alone do anything" or just putting off to have a sense of responsibility ! !

People whose being alive don't seem very realistic to themselves, either may not know they're giving something to others or not be aware they're contributing something to others !
Even if you're not giving others anything material, just your being alive may bring a happiness to others . . .

Maybe it's not so simple like that, but it would be great if each of us don't fear to believe just our being alive is contributing to society and something will change when we are dead; something will change when we are alive.

The morning after a rainy day, it would be so great if we could go through a whole day at school or at work with thinking, not only like "oh, it's a beautiful day, I feel happy," but also (when we get on a train) like "oh . . . someone would have cleaned up that mud on the floor at midnight . . . "
Thoughts like that will lead to better organizations, better countries and even better world, I think.

Sounds real, doesn't it ?

It's great if we can realize that while we're still young; by the time we're an adult we'll understand it . . . I suppose.

All right the year end is coming - I'm gonna take a rest for a whilestar (^__^)

(NOTE by Nuuk)
The credit goes to Luv_Hikki who translated most of this message.
I just tweaked some sentences of her translation.