Traditionally, “filial piety” has been greatly stressed among the Eastern culture for a long period of time. Filial piety basically means to care and support one’s elderly parents; it has been a top priority in part of the children’s upbringing. The novel All I Asking for is My Body focuses on Tosh, Kiyoshi and their parents. Based on the chosen quote above, the book highlights the tension between children owing their parents and parents owing their children.
In this situation, Tosh and Kiyoshi should practice filial piety in resolving their family’s situation of facing $6,000 debt primarily because their parents brought them into this world, no one can predict natural disasters to happen, and children generally should honor their parents.
We are all considered to be indebted to our parents, as they are the ones who brought us into this world. Without our parents, we would not exist at all. In the novel, Tosh’s mother states that “Every child must repay his parents” (Murayama 30).
This is because the younger generation owes their elderly parents the care and attention that was once given to them. As younger generations like Tosh and Kiyoshi instill this mindset into their lives, their sense of social commitment towards their elderly parents will increase. Although Tosh and Kiyoshi came from a poor family, their parents were still able to fulfill their responsibilities of providing for their children’s basic welfare. They may not enjoy certain luxuries like other families had, but their parents did not let their children to starve or become beggars in the street.
According to Murayama, “The Japanese had this special spirit called Yamato damashi, and they had more patience, perseverance, reserve, sense of duty, frugality, filial piety, and industry than any other race” (Murayama 65). Indeed, Kiyoshi’s parents were a great example of those who truly adapted this special spirit into their daily activities and had strongly stressed these values to their children. They have done their part in guiding their children towards their individual development in reaching full rationality.
If Tosh continues to keep up with his despicable attitude, he might eventually end up with children of his own who act just like him and would mistreat him in the future. Therefore, Kiyoshi and Tosh should feel indebted to their parents’ sacrifice and inclined to fulfill their role as children to help resolve the family debt. The outcome of the $6,000 debt was not actually caused by their grandfather’s sinful wrongdoing but by natural disasters. In the novel, Tosh’s mother explained to her children that “In 1922, grandfather finally saved enough money to repay his debts in Japan and open his store in Tokyo.
However, the next year the earthquake wiped out everything” (Murayama 16). Thus, this tragedy was beyond Grandfather’s control. If this incident did not happen, there was a higher chance that Grandfather would have the ability to pay off his debt and would not rely on his posterity to seek for solutions. As life is full of ups and downs, every family will eventually experience some form of trial during a certain point of their lives. Kiyoshi’s parents showed the opposite attitude of Tosh’s behavior by not complaining, murmuring, and pointing fingers over somebody’s wrongdoing.
Kiyoshi’s mother also claimed that “Everything in the first seven years of marriage was handed over to grandfather. Years of frugal living and saving wiped out in less than a day” (Murayama 17). In this case, this problem is definitely fated for this Japanese family to deal with and there is no one to blame. Along the way, Tosh and Kiyoshi’s family also incur some debt of their own caused by the unexpected incident of “the Depression” (Murayama 89). This was due to the overfishing by fisherman at that time, which caused their family to earn nothing.
However, the incoming expenses continued for the sum period of three months. After hearing his father’s story, Kiyoshi had grown to be a more understanding son, as he realized that it was not his father’s fault. Kiyoshi even stated that “I felt sorry for him. It wasn’t all of his fault, grandfather had got him into debt and once you went in the hole it was hard to get out” (Murayama 89). This shows that Kiyoshi was more able to comprehend what his parents had gone through and how hard it was to redict what kind of disaster would happen to a family. Therefore, Tosh and Kiyoshi should not cause more misery to the family and ought to be more supportive by helping the entire family to overcome the debt they currently have to pay. It is morally ethical for the children to play a role in resolving family problems. Exodus 20:12 reads, “Honor thy father and mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. ” One of the ways of honoring our parents is to give them our support, especially in times of need.
In terms of honoring them, we should not follow Tosh’s actions of “throwing a left hook to father’s solar plexus, and father crumpled to the floor, holding his belly” (Murayama 44). This shows a form of disrespect which had greatly hurt parents’ feelings. We can see the despair Tosh’s father felt when his son did that to him; he commented that “There’s nothing worse than a child who puts out a hand against his father! ” (Murayama 44). Therefore, it is unwise for children to behave rudely against their parents, as it will only worsen the family’s situation.
Growing up in a poor Japanese American family, it is crucial for family members to stay united so that each member can share the burden. According to the traditional Japanese culture, the first son is expected to take care of the parents when they grow old. However, later generations such as Tosh (third generation) sometimes have a lower sense of obligation to support their family; this might be due to the influence of the haoles or Western culture.
Although Kiyoshi was not the first son in the family, he actually contributed in trying to reduce the family’s debt. Towards the end of the novel, he managed to win $6,000 from gambling and immediately sent “Tosh a check for $6,000 and scribbled a note: ‘Won this in crap game. Pay up all the debt’” (Murayama 103). This shows how concerned he was for the welfare of his parents, as he seemed to be wiser and more respectful towards others compared to Tosh.
Kiyoshi also had proven to be ethically concern over the future of the family by stating that “I got seven brothers and sisters, and my folks still pooping babies. I have been thinking if I get married, nobody around to look after my brothers and sisters” (Murayama 77). This shows that he would postpone his own marriage for the sake of keeping the family alive. Therefore, children have a role to play in helping their family during financial crisis so that they fully understand the true meaning of honoring their parents.
In conclusion, filial piety is an important virtue that has been taught not only among the Japanese, but also in countries like Philippines, China, Latin America and so on. When children develop this sense of obligation towards their parents, they can better display their love for them. Therefore, children ought to repay their parents after what has been done for them over the years, as it is a great manifestation of honoring them. Moreover, we should not cry over spilt milk and should work towards a better future when trials arise.