[FOUNTAIN]The prejudice against tears

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[FOUNTAIN]The prejudice against tears

This is a story from the Book of Genesis in the Bible. Joseph, who became the prime minister of Egypt, met his brothers after 20 years. They were his stepbrothers, who had sold him into slavery and lied to their father that he had been killed by a wild animal. When his brothers came to Egypt to beg for food because of the famine in Canaan, Joseph recognized them at once. It was because he could not forget the mean things his brothers had done to him. However, his brothers could not recognize Joseph.
Joseph kept his identity a secret and questioned his brothers. “Aren’t you spies? If you are not spies, prove it by bringing your youngest brother Benjamin to Egypt.” When his youngest brother Benjamin showed himself in Egypt, Joseph shed tears. After giving his brothers food, he pretended to be sending them back home, but he brought Benjamin back by accusing him of stealing a silver cup.
At that moment, all the brothers protected Benjamin. They volunteered to be slaves and asked him to set Benjamin free. At last, Joseph revealed his identity. He was sobbing out loud and made gestures to make up with his brothers. What kind of sobbing would this have been? Wouldn’t it have been a cry that cleared up the complicated feelings within himself? Since it was a cry that dispersed the feeling of hatred, it would have been possible for Joseph to forgive and reconcile with his brothers.
A Japanese magazine AERA reported on Monday the results of a survey conducted among Japanese adults. It said, “Cry if you want to be happy.” It means that you should cry when you feel like crying, to be healthy and to perform better at work. Actually, when people cry because their feelings well up, it lets out a poisonous chemical material developed by stress. In these tears, there is a chemical called leucine enkephalin which relieves anxiety and violent fits. The tears that well up when peeling onions do not have these chemicals.
During the funeral of Diana, the Princess of Wales, who died in August 1997, all of England was full of tears. For the next month, the number of patients visiting mental hospitals declined by half. Experts called this the “Diana Effect,” referring to the cathartic effect of crying. There are some reports saying that the reason the life expectancy of males is shorter than that of females is because they cry less and have less chance to release their stress.
People think that crying is a shameful and embarrassing thing. That is why people suppress tears and get stressed by this. If you wish to become happy like Joseph, try to eliminate the prejudice against tears.


by Lee Sang-il

The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.

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