Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Extrodinary Japanese

We don't find too many Koreans praising the Japanese but the editorial board of a Korean bulletin for priest does just that. Founder of the Panasonic Company, Konosuke Matsushita has been praised for spreading his life-affirming message to today's young people.  

Matshusita was born into a wealthy family that lost everything while he was still very young. Never finishing grammar school and struggling with poor health during his youth, he worked at minor jobs before starting a small electronic company in 1918, which in time developed into the Panasonic Company, one of the world's largest company, with over 130,000 employees.

Much of his success, according to the Bulletin article, came about because of the gifts he had received. Because of the gift of poverty, he had to work as a shoeshine boy and as a paperboy, receiving in the process a great deal of experience on how to live.

Because of poor health, he had to exercise to regain and maintain his health. And because of little education (his formal education ended at the age of nine), everybody he met was his teacher. He never lost the opportunity to ask others for help in improving whatever he was doing.

He was praised for his ability in dealing with others, which he credited to his seeing others as his superiors. His attitude was that they were likely to know more than he did, and were likely to be more competent than he was. Lacking formal education he had to gather as much knowledge as he could from other people. By admitting to knowing nothing, he said he was at all times always learning.

The Bulletin article points out that many who have made a study of Matsushita say he was a very ordinary man who became an extraordinary man because he completely embraced his ordinariness as few others have done. His secret for economic success was to enable those working in his company to work to the utmost of their capabilities. He was for a time an innovator in improving cooperation between labor and management, in developing talent, and in making the workplace a lifelong commitment.

He used to say that the difference between the jail and the monastery is the difference between living with discontent or living with thanks. If in prison and you give thanks, you are in a monastery; if in a monastery and not content, you are in jail.

Here is a man who grew up with adversity and yet could see the beauty, the value and opportunities of life without having any religious beliefs to guide him. He became a great leader in our world where so many others, having struggled with adversity, have given up hope.

There are many who live according to what Catholics would call natural law or right  reason. We can only thank God for their sensitivity to the dictates of right reason. When we see a person who has money as his object and in search of profits  and behaving the way Mitsubishi did it is  extraordinary.