I hadn’t seen this game until I came to Japan.  It’s a common way to create a random result much like drawing straws.

It’s called “Amidakuji”.  You pick one of the columns at the top and tumble downwards, turning when you get to an intersection.  The more intersections the more difficult it becomes to quickly determine the location of the prize at the bottom.

Here’s a game I hadn’t seen until a few years ago.  It’s a common way for assholes to manipulate simpletons.

The mind doesn’t work like Amidakuji, however. We have a choice at every intersection and how we react is up to us.

I had a choice.  The train filled up and the seat next to me was still empty after every other one was filled.  Why is no one sitting next to me?  I had a choice.  The Japanese people felt uncomfortable and didn’t want some unforeseen hassle as they commuted to work.  Or, they are racists that judge humans based solely on skin color.

I had a choice.  The cashier at 7-11 told me in English that my change was, “Uh, uh, six hundred and uh, uh, twenty, uh, five yen.”  Why?  I had a choice.  Maybe the cashier had dealt with tourists that didn’t speak Japanese and figured he was being helpful.  Or, the cashier had been studying English in order to expand his horizons, took the opportunity that arose when I walked in and bought my fifth of Beam.  Or, he’s a racist that is intentionally othering me out of an extreme and ancient malice.

I had a choice.  The izakaya had a tatami room and I was wriggling my long legs in pain as I sat on the floor.  The waitress brought me an extra cushion.  I had a choice.  The waitress recognized my discomfort and gave me the cushion to make my dining experience more pleasant.  Or, she latched onto the chance to expose foreigners as monkeys incapable of adapting to Japanese customs.

I had a choice.  My wife married me.  I had a choice.  She found some shred of decency in my prickly character that she respected and decided to make a life with me.  Or, she had been programmed through unconscious bias to see the white man as superior and perpetuated racism against her own POCs in as hideous a manner as possible.

There are vicious cycles, virtuous cycles and virtue signalling cycles.  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” I kept that quote in mind when I decided how to react in the situations mentioned above.  Sure, maybe ten racists got away with being racist, but I didn’t slander one non racist.  I like those odds.  Bet I could’ve swept up some virtue signalling treasure if I had interpreted those situations in the worst light possible and plopped my poisonous thoughts on Twitter.  I don’t want to get addicted to that any more than I want to get addicted to meth.

Final thought on this: You can’t make racism the worst possible evil in society and then allow people to throw around flimsy accusations of racism like confetti.