It’s a hard truth they learned early on in life.
Recently, a Japanese netizen posted a controversial tweet claiming that sending 1,000 origami cranes to disaster areas, in order to “cheer up” the victims, is more a method to gain self-satisfaction and less an act of good will. That seemed to have gotten Twitter thinking…where does “kindness” end and “self-serving ambitions” begin?
It’s the age old debate. If you’re doing something for someone else just to feel good about what you did, is it really a selfless act? What makes someone a selfless person, or a kind person? Not just acts of “goodwill”, as one netizen, @wo__OIL, learned early in life:
五十肩 (@wo__OIL) July 09, 2018
“When I was in elementary school, our homeroom teacher was hospitalized and we decided to fold 1,000 paper cranes for them. I, the outcast of the class, was given 50 sheets of black origami paper, and even though I wasn’t very good at it, I worked really hard to fold 50 paper cranes. But after finishing them, I was told, “Black is an unlucky color!” and they were thrown right into the trash. It was then that I understood that ‘Goodwill is just for self-satisfaction’.”
It’s a strangely deep conclusion to make as a child, and a sadly cynical outcome of being bullied, which is a problem for many grade-school students. The netizen rightly believed that, because they rejected his efforts, their classmates weren’t invested in the act of goodwill in itself, but in the image of themselves doing a good thing.
Their selfishness lies in the fact that they weren’t willing to share the experience of doing a nice thing for someone, which is probably why the netizen knew, at a young age, that they were wrong. The post, with its intense realism and hard-hitting theme, quickly spread among Japanese netizens, who sympathized with the netizen’s experience:
“That’s bullying more than anything else. A person who has good intentions can also have evil intentions. ‘Goodwill’ isn’t limited to decent people.”
“This exact same thing happened to me when I was in preschool. I had only black paper and when I made the cranes, they got mad at me and said ‘This is bad luck and it’s dirty!” and threw them away right in front of me…”
“When I was a kid, I was told that God is watching the people who completely reject other people’s hard work, because they’re not decent people.”
“That’s a cruel story. But people who have been hurt can understand the pain of others.”
It’s hard to find people who are truly good; that was a harsh truth that this netizen was forced to learn at an early age. But that’s part of being human; we are all flawed creatures, and though we may do bad things, we do many more good things, too. Countless tales of kindness on Japanese trains have proven that.