I Apologise For Witnessing Your Shame

Japanese people know exactly what the title means. When someone behaves shamefully or loses their temper they bow to them in apology for witnessing the incident. It is a gentle rebuke.

I have seen it practiced in Sydney – down at Circular Quay one evening an Asian man exploded in mindless rage at his wife – tourists both. It was so noticeable, prolonged, and presumably out of character that the other people in the party bowed to him as he raged and then they turned away.

I wonder whether it will have any effect of ill-mannered people here in Western Australia. Chances are I’ll get a chance to see on Saturday when i’ll be a guest at a meeting of hobbyists. One of the attendees has been problematical in the past – bigoted and aggressive – and will probably be so again if he can see an audience.

I’ll try the Japanese bow and see if it breaks the cycle. Not really hopeful, but the meeting is in a private home and the host is a gentleman. No need to distress him.

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