Last night I watched the much touted Japanese movie "Seven Samurai" I love the old west re-make "The Magnificent Seven" so I figured that it was about time I go to the classic. I have to first say, I was not disappointed.
Other then the great use of archetype what caught my attention and spoke volumes to me about the Japanese philosophy of the Samurai code came near the beginning. The lead hero "Kambei" a aging and crafty warrior comes upon a village where a thief being discovered by the villagers at night had taken a child hostage and was held up in a barn. No one dared approach the criminal for fear that he would kill the child. Making a quick assessment of the situation Kambei goes to a stream shaves his head and takes on the clothing of a monk.
In his disguise he approaches the barn with two rice balls to offer the criminal to eat and give to the child. The criminal protests his approach but Kambei reassures him that he is simply a monk who has come to offer food. He then opens the door taking a squatting position observing the situation inside, when he sees that the time is right he leaps into the barn. You see nothing of what happens only hearing a scuffle, then the robber comes stumbling out of the barn, standing dazed for a second and then falls dead to the ground. Kambei then emerges from the building having saved the child and slain the offender.
What stuck out to me about this interaction was the clearly displayed contempt the director and actors showed for the thief. In western movies of today we would not be allowed to simply slay the offender, we would have to have him removed with "less then lethal" means and then we would have to have a long back story on why the poor criminal was turned to a life of crime. We have become a society in many ways that seeks to justify bad behavior with a multiple camouflages other then simply seeing the problem as "if your a criminal you are below respect."
Heck our society even has become one that in many ways glorifies the criminal while mocking the law abiding honorable person. The cause of this could be any number of things however in my own mind the cause seems to be that we seek to justify the negative actions of others because we know that some day we will be in need of some kind of justification for our own actions that we know are dishonorable. In our collective minds we seek to justify others misdeeds so that in the end when the table is eventually turned hopefully that same action will be repaid to us.
However wishful this may be from what I have seen Satan and any other cohort is all to willing to sell us down the river for our dishonorable actions. Inevitably when we are the criminal locked in the barn holding a emotional hostage for justification we will be the one left too die alone. The only recourse is to truly live an honorable truthful life and then expecting the same from others, distancing ourselves from those who prove less then honorable.