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Western culture is valid. We shouldn't take on another identity.

What Japan Taught Me

I lived in Japan for seven and a half years. It wasn’t a surprise that I moved there. My childhood was immersed in Japanese culture. My father was in love with Japan and Zen Buddhism, and our home was filled with books about Japanese life. When I turned sixteen, I started studying karate. It became the focus of my entire life and eventually I lined up to take part in the 1985 All Japan Karate championships. When my wife and I got married, we moved to Japan together, and l lived there for six and a half more years. In the end I spent most of my thirties in Japan. 

Faux Japanese

Overall, it was a great experience. I was able to do and see things I never would have been able to do had I not gone. My wife and I were able to travel in Japan and other Asian countries. At the end of my time there I was comfortable with Japanese life and even considered living there permanently. I still have a deep respect and affection for the Japanese and their culture and have many Japanese friends whom I regularly correspond with. It all sounds exotic and wonderful, doesn’t it, but that was where the problem lay. You see, during my time there I had become “faux Japanese.” 

 Shattered Illusions

During my first stay in Japan, I experienced an identity crisis. Real Japan was nothing like what I had imagined it would be. That Japan was my father’s fantasy, a land of Zen temples and waving bamboo groves. Tokyo was not like that. It was busy, crowded, unhealthy and competitive. I was going to the dojo every day and training hard while losing weight and constantly being injured. As a result, I became disillusioned. At times living in Japan was depressing, but that experience was also the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me think about who I was, and I desperately needed to do that.

Subway U…

 I realized that I had made a mistake by exchanging my identity and culture for that of the Japanese. It had been a colossal error. It seems obvious now, but it wasn’t then. It is one thing to be fascinated with another culture. It is quite another to think that you belong to it or that you are a member of another race. I quickly discovered that I was not. That discovery left a hole in my life. The way out of that hole was reading. I had a lot of time on my hands while riding on the Tokyo subway system and decided to spend it finding out about my own culture through books. The main question was “If I am not Japanese, then who am I?” In order to find the answer I read voraciously. I began with the great classics of the western world and worked my way up. I thought of my experience as the “University of the Subway” and that is exactly what it became. By the end of my stay in Japan I understood that I was western and that I belonged to a great and powerful civilization and culture. I had come home. 

Delusional Misidentification 

But I was one of the fortunate ones. Millions are now suffering from the belief that they are something they are not. My own sense of misidentification seems trivial by comparison. I had mixed up two cultures and identified myself with the wrong one. But at least I knew that those cultures were real. People are now ignoring reality completely and identifying with something they are not. Sometimes they think they are a different race, and some of those people have been exposed and lost their jobs. An example is Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who pretended to be black and managed to fool enough people into becoming an NAACP chapter head. Others, think they are a different species. I am not exaggerating. Those who identify as animals are called “Therins.” They wear animal suits or costumes and believe they are not human. Ironically, only a human could have such a thought. 

The Nature of the Problem

This entire problem stems from the fact that our society has made it permissible to participate in delusional identities. We go along with it because we think that reality and our culture are boring or invalid and that other cultures and states of belief are better than our own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our society, by which I mean traditional western society, is far from boring and has great power and significance. It has been, and is, the most important element in the world we live in. We in the West no longer appreciate the wealth and freedom our ancestors bequeathed to us because we swim in these things every day. We are so accustomed to them that we do not even realize that they are being threatened. As a result, we leave ourselves open to falsehoods and delusions that obscure our own identity from us. We see our western culture as dangerous, racist and despicable when, of course, it is not. We look to other civilizations and ideologies as better when they are not just as I looked on Japanese culture as better than my own when it wasn’t. 

Necessary Things

What Japan taught me was that we do not need to denigrate our culture or assume false identities in order to feel worthy. In fact, it is a terrible mistake to do so. The world is now obsessed with the idea of honouring the “other” without properly honouring ourselves and this has brought us to our cultural knees. We need to reverse this trend. I will always honour Japanese culture and be fond of it, but I will never again feel that my own culture is inferior. Unlike many others, I was finally able to understand my identity. The same cannot be said of millions of others in this “woke” world of ours. 

Rightful Pride

Many people dislike excessive pride and rightfully so. We should not be obnoxiously proud. A healthy humility is both necessary and attractive. It goes a long way towards making you a better person. But there is also rightful pride, and I would like to argue for it.  Western civilization is a great and magnificent civilization and not one that we should be ashamed of. We have had quite enough of that in recent years.  No civilization is perfect, including ours, but we can be rightfully proud of the good that it has done, and it is time for us to fall back in love with it.  

The Right Kind of “Identity Politics”

We should not adhere to false identities, and we should be proud of our western identity and European heritage both as individuals and as a nation. There is no reason not to be. We are seeing the toxic effects of the wrong kind of identity politics everywhere these days. It manifests itself in the form of censorship, reverse racism, violence, DEI, cancel culture and propaganda. Ironically, true identity politics is something we should all practice. Take pride in your western identity. You have a right to do so, and your culture richly deserves your loyalty. 

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Jack Peake
Jack Peake
1 year ago

Couldn’t agree more! I have visited Japan on three occasions which I enjoyed. Loved the Japanese people that I met on Hokkaido. A great twinning relationship with Ohtaki. BUT we need to value what we have and am concerned with other cultures coming to Canada for the benefits while holding on to their cultures and expecting us to change to suit them. Worried about Canada’s future.

Perry Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Peake

You have a right to be worried, not just about our cultural heritage being eliminated but also about the all out attack on that same heritage by the Woke and powerful. We have a right to our heritage. It is up to us to defend it and protect it. In the end that is what will ultimately matter: if, or if not we have the courage to preserve and defend it.

Rick Higgins
11 months ago
Reply to  Perry Foster

Perry, great writing, and excellent points. I, like Jack, have a serious concern about what is happening in Canada with the extreme levels of immigration. Is it possible to be a citizen of this great and wonderful country and yet not be Canadian? If I go to India, or Japan or even South Africa does the mere geographic location give me a deep historical sense of belonging? I think not. Of course, as an immigrant I could certainly enjoy and participate in everything the country affords, but as the song goes “I left my heart in San Francisco,” or perhaps… Read more »

Edward Field
Edward Field
1 year ago

What an eye-opener, Perry! Your unusual and in-depth experience of Japan provides impressive support for your conclusions. The tendency to despise our own civilization simply because we are born into it is not logical and leads to a panoply of sick thinking.

Perry Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Edward Field

Yes! Incredibly sick and distorted thinking that is spreading quickly. However, in the last little while I have noticed pushback and even strong resistance to all of this. Note the new parental pushback to school curriculum and the resistance to Pride month. In my opinion that is very encouraging! Our history and culture also needs to be fought for in the same manner and with the same intensity.

Hal Adam
1 year ago

As usual very well stated and always informative and thought provoking. Speaking of a person’s identity, I have just recently put together a statement should anyone ask what my identity is. I may have identified as the Prime Minister of Canada i.e. PrimeMinisterOfCanada@pm.me (as a joke but a VALID eMail address for me). Some people may consider me a cyclist or cyclepath or maybe a bragocious Systems Programmer, or some a vocal conservative or Christian apologist, or a saur Kraut (since I was born in Germany) all of which I probably am. These are however NOT my main identity. I… Read more »

Irene Oakes
Irene Oakes
1 year ago

Well written Perry. A very solid look at reality as opposed to fantasy. The truth will always strengthen us and set us free from the delusions being poured upon us. Thanks.

Perry Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Irene Oakes

You’re welcome. I only state what is obvious and true. What others do with it is up to them.

Robert
Robert
1 year ago

Thanks for this writing Perry. I agree totally with the idea that we are more attracted to what we don’t know, than what we do know. As well, we tend to look for shortcomings in that which we already have. Canada is an amazing place to live and we should all be thankful of that. It does not help us collectively to denigrate our history and undermine the efforts of our ancestors. Yes, there are aspects of our History that are not worthy of envy and we should be open and honest about those events. However……let’s not allow ourselves to… Read more »

Perry Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert

Indeed, it is a fact: the central fact. First and foremost we must stop denying our worth in order to be accepted, loved or part of the current popular way of thinking. Second, we must stop “Euro Bashing” as a way to virtue signal or embrace the new Woke secular religion. (It’s a false religion by the way.) It’s good to see that you are proud of your Dutch/ Italian/ English heritage.

Mike Groenewold
Mike Groenewold
1 year ago

All nations have a historical foundation which is grounded in a reality that makes it either a strong, free and great nation or a weak, fragile and unreliable one. Our world abounds with both (and lots everywhere in between). The truth is that the strength or weakness of a nation corresponds directly to its world and life view. I would humbly submit that the best nations for people to live in, the ones where MOST people would prefer to live are the nations founded upon a Judeo/Christian worldview. Western nations are always among the top places to live in our… Read more »

Nicodemus
Nicodemus
1 year ago

I agree with this analysis, and would add that it behooves us all to return over and over again to the great texts of the Western tradition, starting with the Bible and the Classics, to understand why ‘a Biblical view of life and the world’ leads to freedom.  Also, responding more directly to Perry’s essay, I really like the image of the ‘university of the subway’ and the great point made that the best place to engage in one’s heritage is wherever and whenever we find ourselves with a bit of time and space to read the great works of… Read more »

Perry Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicodemus

The great works hold the key, especially, and most naturally, of course, the Bible. It is central to the struggle to recover our culture and we must find a way to re-introduce them to our young. Fortunately, the current drive to establish non denominational Classical schools is leading the way. There are more and more of them being established every year. They are a bright light in the darkness my friends.

Nicodemus
Nicodemus
1 year ago

Thank-you Perry for this insightful and powerful essay. Would you agree that your essay is saying that to be true to one’s self, and to even get a true sense of self, we need to look outside ourselves, at what our Western identities are forged by? That we need an authentic sense of history and culture to be able to see and understand our own authentic inner being?

Perry Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicodemus

Yes. Essentially that is exactly what I am saying. I had to accomplish this under the heavy weight of indoctrination and having had my identity stripped from me. Let us hope that in some way others can recover their history and culture without having to go through what I went through. That is not going to be easy in the rapidly authoritarian and “Woke Fascistic” society being constructed by the progressive Left. There will be more darkness before there is light, but after a perhaps long term struggle we will be able to regain our culture again.

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 year ago

In losing our life, we gain it, said the Carpenter of Nazareth. Yours is just such a gospel paradox and experience. Excellent insight and essay.

Perry Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy

Thank you. But I also went through a “dark night of the soul” in trying to figure it all out. Thankfully, I had the Bible and the Classics to help me through that.

Andrew
Andrew
1 year ago

Great article Perry I completely agree. We tent to ignore what is right in front of us while romanticizing other cultures. Canadian culture is wonderful and we need to stop ignoring it.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

Excellent article Perry. As an individual that has attended the new, modern and at times, horrifically imbalanced landscape of university, I can relate. In my second year, I was exposed to the guilt you write about, how western culture is to be demonized, and as a compassionate person, I looked inwardly and asked myself all the questions that contemporary culture is shoving down our throats. I found myself coming apart, confused and almost indoctrinated, however I resisted. I am proud to be the son of a first generation immigrant in my mothers side, my grandfather served his country in the… Read more »