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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Your life experiences are valuable to the discussion

Rika Kayama

It seems the world's eyes are on North Korea. Views vary, from, "Perhaps this will lead to peace," to "Nope, we've been back-stabbed so many times before." But for now, I'd like to set aside these well-worn political debates.

On the night of the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, I called my elderly mother on the phone. And here is what she said to me: "That man lost his father when he was young and doesn't know how to conduct himself. Maybe he's tried too hard to look tough. And in the meantime a lot of people have come to dislike him, so I think he's become more obstinate. But today, he met an older president like his father, and got some friendly suggestions. Perhaps that's the first time he's been able to relax."

I smiled wryly as my mother talked about the leader of North Korea as though he was just some young man she happened to know. But later, I told this story to a number of female acquaintances. And when I did, instead of laughing, they said something like, "I thought exactly the same thing. My son was so stubborn when he was young, too." Or, "I remembered my late husband talking with my son, and it brought tears to my eyes." It seemed they felt quite strongly the way my mother did. All the women who made these kinds of comments were older than me and had raised kids. It seems they saw that historic Moon-Kim meeting as a kind of father-son moment.

Of course I am not saying that their reading of the situation is entirely correct. But I did think that these women who looked at what was going on, compared it to their own life experiences and then expressed a frank opinion about it were strong. Also, it reminded me that sometimes intuitive, emotional impressions of things are more on the mark than what is sometimes called "manly" objective analysis.

On issues as varied as the waiting list for child care places to peace, there are now far more chances for women to express their views, at gatherings or on the internet. Among women speaking out are those who say, "I haven't had much interest in social issues until now and I'm not well read on the topic, but there is something I'd like to say based on this experience I've had." There is weight to those words, and I often find myself thinking, "Wow, that's right" when I hear what's on their mind.

It must be said that this intuition certainly isn't limited to women. Men, too, can and should speak on topics that aren't necessarily their professional specialties. However, this shouldn't merely be discussion for discussion's sake, but words and ideas rooted in frank impressions and personal experiences.

"I don't understand difficult things, but this is what I think." If everyone could talk about their thoughts and feelings this way, I think it would reduce stress and also enliven our society. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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