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Human beings are born, and they die. This is an immutable fact, but the time and place in which they are born can largely affect the way they die. There are different opinions about what makes the end of one's life a happy one, but it is probably safe to say that Japan is a country with many fortunate deaths.
Previously, I lived in the Philippines. There are many poor people in the Philippines, so it can hardly be called a wealthy country. However, I feel that my life there was extremely blessed.
While I was there, I went to a private school that was surrounded by a high fence, completely cut off from the outside. This was to keep beggars from coming in. However, we could see outside from within the school grounds. From inside the school, I would gaze outside, looking for a boy who was always there. He was a child beggar. He wore a large t-shirt that was too big for his thin body as he looked for scraps of food. In the sweltering heat, he scavenged through garbage that was swarming with flies. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as I studied in an air-conditioned classroom. His life continued on in this way-completely normal for him, but far out of the ordinary from my perspective.
But then, one morning, in front of the school, I found a dog with blood around its mouth. It was nothing like the kind of cute little pet dog one might see in Japan. It was a thin dog, with protruding cheekbones. I thought it had been in a fight with another dog, but the next thing I noticed was the boy, bleeding from his leg. The light had gone out of his eyes, and he lay there as if he were dead. But after two or three days, I no longer saw his lifeless eyes. He had died. Perhaps it was rabies. From my classroom, I could clearly see him suffering, and then dying. After he died, a city sanitation worker put him in a bin, just like trash. To the sanitation worker, the boy was merely garbage. As always, I watched it from my air-conditioned classroom. That was all I could do-watch-because I was powerless. But, what could I have done back then? Even now, I don't think I could do anything. However, in the future, I may be able to do something. Or, I should say, I need to become a person who can do something. That is how I have come to think about it.
In my opinion, the dog did not kill the boy-it was society who killed him. Perhaps this kind of thing is happening all over the world. There are also more than a few cases where societykills people directly-by wars and other means. Generally speaking, it is money that runs society, but in countries like the Philippines, there is no system established to adequately circulate money within society.
It was because of my father's job that we were living in the Philippines. My father has a job giving technological support to developing countries. He teaches people how to make and sell products locally in order to provide for themselves. Although I respect my father, I am not considering following in his line of work.
I want to take a fresh look at the social system itself, and work to reform it. My dream is to work on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Of course, there are many things I will have to study, and that is why I am going to school now.
It would be no ordinary task to try and make up for the moment when I sat in my air-conditioned classroom and watched the boy dying. Now that I am living in peaceful Japan, I think it is important to tell people about my experience-one that would not likely happen here-and bring up the issue with them.
I don't think I will ever forget that boy for as long as I live. Every time I recall that incident, I feel it grabbing at my heart. I don't know how many years from now it will be, but I hope to visit the Philippines again-this time, to see boys not with lifeless eyes, but with eyes full of hope.
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