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Faith in Miso Soup


Miso best


I happened to be in Paris on 9/11. In the days that followed, I would walk along the Seine and feel the huge, solid stones that made up the walls along the river. Those stones gave me comfort: Because of all they had been through, I knew that humanity wouldn't be crushed by this latest episode of violence. That something would endure.

Now, 19 years later, humanity is under attack again. This time, by villains who have been given a safe space from which to operate, a space of near-zero accountability, of near-perfect freedom to carry out their crimes. And tonight, we ordered Japanese food from a restaurant we like. And as I took a bite of katsu curry, I was transported back to Japan for a moment. I felt again what it was like to live in a civilized culture, a place of beauty and trust.

I had a sip of miso soup, and I remembered my first night when I moved there, making miso soup for myself from ingredients I had bought in a little grocery shop, in my tiny little apartment, at the beginning of what was to be a Great Adventure. And it gave me some comfort. Why? Because I just looked it up, and miso soup has been around since at least the Kamakura period (1185-1333), so well over 600 years. I think of everything the world has been through in those 600 years. Everything Japan in particular has been through. Yet miso soup has survived. Katsu curry has survived (although not for quite as long). Sentos have survived. They will survive this too.

Humanity and civilization are under assault, by the same forces that have been assaulting us for centuries: those who desire power over others, and the institutions that give it to them. But I have faith that when this current assault is over–and one day it will be over–it's perpetrators will be dead, and miso soup will still be here.