|2007-06-23, 23:46||Link #1|
Join Date: Jun 2007
There’s a particular scene from Naruto that still clings to my brain…
Naruto is taking the exam that will determine whether or not he is to advance to the level of Chuunin (an intermediate ninja rank). Standing at the front of the classroom is the exam’s proctor. Up until this point, each student had been taking a paper test with nine questions of such profound difficulty that cheating was the only way of getting anything right. And that was the point—the test’s purpose was to gauge “information gathering” skills. Unfortunately, Naruto didn’t realize this, and just stared nervously at a blank sheet of paper the entire time.
So the proctor stops the test and tells the class that the 10th question is optional, to a point. Those who do not take the 10th question will fail along with the rest of their team. Those who do take the 10th question—but get it incorrect—will lose the privilege of taking the Chuunin exam forever. The classroom is stunned. A few people quit the exam then and there, effectively sacrificing present uncertainty for the comfortable hug of the future.
Naruto, sweating profoundly, is faced with a stunning quandary. He was completely baffled by the first nine questions, so there was little probability that he would get the tenth correct. And if he failed the tenth question, he would be stuck a junior-level ninja forever. However, if he quit, he would have to suffer his teammates failing alongside him. More importantly though, he would be admitting to the world—and to himself—that he was not good enough to be a Chuunin.
Naruto, visibly perturbed, slowly inches his hand toward the ceiling to volunteer his defeat. Suddenly, he smashes his hand on his desk and yells at the exam’s proctor. He asserts that even if he has to formally stay at a low-rank forever, he will still become great ninja one day. Powerful words.
So what’s the significance of Naruto’s impressive will?
I think often in present day society, people attach too much significance to superficial things such as titles and awards. It’s in our nature. This sets up the difference between the formal (titular) and the informal. Naruto had such a deep and personal sense of informal worth that he was completely unafraid of losing any formal distinctions he might gain. He would be a great ninja, regardless of what anyone else told him.
To anchor things more in the real world (as opposed to the anime world), there are countless examples of great people who were never formally appreciated during their lifetime. And so too vice-versa. Awards and titles, while fun and interesting, should never be taken as a replacement for actual achievement. Indeed, I think people who lean too heavily on such things are hiding something (small dogs do bark the loudest). To state a personal example, I have a lot of advanced belts in martial arts. However, I try not to let that get to my head in dangerous situations—I’m really not that good and would probably get seriously hurt!
So what’s the take-home point?
When you’re stuck in a position where you miss that award or don’t attain that title or fall short of that grade, just remember Naruto. If you’re really good, you won’t need those superficial seals of approval in the long-run anyway.