Lessons on Right Speech from the Miss Universe 2015 Contest

Long ago, a pretty girl lived next door:
She used to pick mulberries in a distant grove,
Returning with her white arms full of
Gold and silver branches.
She sang with a heart-rending voice
And sparkled with life.
Young farmers put aside their hoes when they saw her,
And many forgot to return home when she was around.
Now she is just a white-haired granny,
Burdened with the aches and pains of old age.

Ryokan (1758-1831)

We spend our time idealising beauty and youth. And sometimes we forget even our jobs when in the presence of such. Even more we spend time pitting the beauty of one country with the next as though they are comparable, measurable.

Putting this point aside for the moment something more problematic is literally the wrong speech, the mistake or slip-of-the-tongue perhaps even wishful thinking on the presenter’s part. The expectations as well combine to the subjective, non-existant pain of losing even deeper. What we say and do have consequences. It is important that we be mindful of ourselves to speak correctly and know when to refrain from speech. Much of the outrage of having both Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines’ moment of glory stolen really carry pain that will last longer and deeper than we think.

Dragging the past into sports is an insult to us

It is unfortunate that someone had made this comment about the US’s win in the Women’s World Cup. How does a win in soccer equate to retaliation for war? Where does speech like this lead? Would it have been okay for the Japanese to gloat in their last win with tweets like “that one is for Hiroshima”?

The good thing about the Internet is that it is a place, in Francois Lyotard’s term, for the “little narratives” to be heard. But at the same it is a problem because of its noise where careless speech spirals uncontrollably. 

For people to agree with such a tweet is to show how naive and reckless people are, not to mention how irresponsible it is to speak so lightly of two completely different things in the same breath. 

It is an insult to the Japanese, to those who lost their lives or who have lost loved ones in war, to the survivors of war, and finally it is an insult to our general intelligence. 

youth, gone by

no message of thanks
like dropped stone into black well
waiting for an echo
complete silence
as though my letter
had never reached him
or else it had gone straight past

youth, selfishness
same thing
common curtesy out all windows
but i cannot be angry
all i can do is write a poem
for i was as young and
more selfish once