The Virtue of Courage
Lessons from the Ethics of War and Peace
Dr. David DeCosse with two students from his Ethics of War and Peace class, Hiroka Yasutake (left) and Tomoya Hori (right).
Just as it is at Santa Clara University, my Ethics of War and Peace class here at Sophia University draws more students than any other class I teach. Here 78 students are in the class and they are almost entirely Japanese (the class is taught in English).
In the first part of the semester, we did a unit on the meaning of the virtue of courage. We studied Aristotle and Aquinas. The students then had to write a short paper drawing on either Aristotle or Aquinas to analyze the meaning of courage in the Akira Kurosawa's classic film, "The Seven Samurai."
But before we began even discussing courage at all and without any other prompting, I asked the students to write down who they thought today is the most courageous person in Japan -- and why. The results were fascinating and moving. Two figures were mentioned most often by students. The first was Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who in 1940 issued thousands of visas allowing Jews to escape the Nazis -- with whom the Japanese government at the time was allied. The second was current Tokyo Mayor Yuriko Koike, who is the first woman to hold that office and who is now engaged in epic battles against corruption related to the world-famous Tsukiji fish market and the coming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Koike is definitely a figure to watch.
(AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)