Shocked by coworker’s behavior during 3/11 moment of silence

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a man in my 60s and work as a civil servant, and I’m shocked by my coworker’s behavior.

There was an incident that happened on March 11 last year. During the morning announcement at work, we were asked to take a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. to pray that the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake were at peace. However, one woman left the room when it started.

She returned after it ended. When I asked her why she left, she said, “It’s because I don’t want to remember it.” But I think it is incredibly insulting to the victims and their families not to take part in the moment of silence.

My coworker is a veteran, so she is helpful whenever I have a question, and I depend on her at work. However, I knew she was an insensitive person, so I never took her too seriously, but I cannot accept how she behaved during the moment of silence.

She did the same thing this year on March 11. How should I act around someone like this?

—E, Aichi Prefecture

Dear Mr. E:

This reminds me of a well-known story in the Bible. When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he said that when you pray, don’t pray in synagogues or on the street to be seen by others, but pray quietly by yourself in a back room with the door closed.

He is not criticizing those who pray together. But what Jesus is saying is that prayer is something that is private and should not be done in the hopes of getting praise or to show off.

I think it is important for everyone to come together and pray. People living in different regions probably all prayed together this year as well, at the same time on March 11.

What about you? I can imagine that you got distracted by her leaving the room. You were annoyed because she’s normally an insensitive person, so you were thinking of writing to a newspaper to complain about her.

Don’t you think that it’s insulting to the victims and their families to pray while thinking those thoughts?

Every single day is the anniversary of someone’s death. Are you more sincere if everyone has a moment of silence at work together after the morning announcement? It shouldn’t be surprising to find that some people believe that prayer should not be forced.

No one knows if she went into a back room to pray. However, at the very least, I think it’s clear that it is not a place where others should tread with their muddy shoes.

—Hazuki Saisho, writer