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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

September , 2023
Recommendation to be “Osekkai”

I heard an excellent speech.

It was a speech by a 15-year-old girl and the title was “Spreading the act of Ossekai” (Ossekai is a Japanese word to describe the act of kind-hearted interference to help others.)
Haruka Sasaki is the name of the girl who gave the speech persuasively, in her bright and clear, voice.
The speech took place at a children’s convention held in Yokohama City, where elementary and junior high school students in Yokohama were to speak out loud, on the theme of what they want to do for international peace.
She was chosen as the top “Mayor’s Price” winner.
When I first heard the theme that she chose, “Spreading the act of Ossekai”, I imagined something of an idle talk, but I got interested and decided to hear her.
It started with an episode about her grandmother who lived close to the girl and had numerous souvenirs from abroad displayed in her house, and the girl wondered why.
Nowadays, her grandmother has not been able to travel abroad due to the Coronavirus pandemic and her age, but the story goes back to the old days.
Long before the girl was born, her grandmother used to do lots of “ossekai” to people. Grandmother was concerned about the humble lifestyles of the foreign students who came to Japan to study, and she invited them to her home and let them stay overnight, fed them, and helped to solve their problems. As she watched and reached out, caring about other people, they came to know about each other’s culture and history. When the foreign students went back to their countries, having experienced and received the idea of the kindness of “ossekai”, and deepening interactions with people from various countries, they invited back the grandmother to their home countries. So, she visited abroad to countries she didn’t know, and there, new exchanges, bonds, relationships, and connections were born and spread.
The grandmother wished happiness to people in need from countries she didn’t know, helping them and strengthening their bonds. Many people who received her kind-hearted “ossekai” reported living happy lives, since. I am sure that those people too, were meddling with those around them in the same way.
We can see the circle of happiness expanding rapidly.

Human connections are becoming weaker at an accelerating pace, and communication has been decreasing since the Coronavirus disaster, with incidents, conflicts, and wars with no end becoming more violent.
In such a time, as Haruka-san said in her speech, compassion for others next door could lead to one neighbour after another, and eventually become a big heave.
To touch the hearts of those in need with courage (and with “ossekai”), and to be close to the hearts of those suffering alone.

I felt that I had forgotten this somehow. I was too busy taking care of myself not to be infected with the Coronavirus, worrying about what might happen to my work, and worrying about those who had been infected, and I didn’t have the space in my heart to care about other things.
I am glad that I was able to hear Ms. Haruka Sasaki’s speech. Her clear mind and direct words got right through to my heart and mind.
Thank you, Haruka-san!