Monday, July 25, 2016

The Social Darwinism of Satoshi Uematsui

       Horrible news out of Japan today. Satoshi Uematsu, a 26 year old former worker at a nursing facility for the elderly with mental disabilities, went on a stabbing spree at the facility. Uematsui killed 19 resident and wounded 24 more. Twenty of the wounded are considered critical. The brutal act is not only shocking because Japan is a relatively safe country with little major crime, but Uematsui's social Darwinist rationale for his actions. When he turned himself in Uematsui confessed and said he committed the murders because he wanted to get rid of the disabled.
       Uematsui delivered a letter to the lower house of the Diet in February declaring he would kill 470 disabled people because he wanted Japan to be a country in which the disabled could be euthanize d. Uematsui rationalized the disabled are a drain financially and emotionally and cannot participate in society. Uematsu was himself institutionalized because of the letter, but was released after two weeks. Today he made good on his threat, though thankfully not the number of casualties he originally intended.
       If not for my experience in recent years being dumped in a similar facility, I might have glossed over this news item with little emotional. Instead I feel great empathy for those living in such places. Not only do they suffer physical and mental ailments, but also face a growing societal condescension as the people they used to be fade into twilight. You would like to think it does not happen, but I can tell you first hand residents of nursing homes are frequently considered lesser people because of their debilitating health issues and/pr advanced age. Uematsui's despicable act is rightfully condemned by the public at large, but the seeds of his attitude regarding the disabled are there. Faint perhaps, but not as faint as would make me comfortable.
       I would like to have some solutions to offer up, but unfortunately, I do not. I am only glad I was fortunate enough to escape the facility in which I was trapped. Lord only knows how long I will bear the emotional sears that came along with it. Maybe telling my story and the things I witnessed during my experience can count as my fair share. Proper compassion must come from within. You cannot make someone draw the right conclusion. You can only hope to appeal to the better angels of human nature.

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