In Silence by Shusaku Endo, Rodrigues, a Priest from Portugal, travels to Japan – a country hostile to Christianity. However, in his mission, Rodrigues gets captured and ultimately must make the decision of publicly denouncing his faith by stepping on the fumie. Seen as a great disrespect in Japan, the fumie fixed with the face of Christ was trampled on by Rodrigues. While it is known that the moment his foot contacted the face of Christ, he had done something wrong, was he right in doing so?
While some might agree that doing something wrong cannot be justified or “right,” our decisions are made based upon the conditions and context we are placed in, “the unconscious priming effects a person encounters, how a decision is framed, or what other choices are available for comparison” (https://www.qualtrics.com/blog/understanding-human-behavior/). Rodrigues trampled on the fumie because of the predicament and experience he had faced throughout his time in Japan; patronizing a person for making a decision off of that is faulty. Yes, he is a Christian and did something immoral to those beliefs, however, God gifted the ability to freely think and make decisions knowing that we all would perform immoral actions at some point. Maybe that is not enough to justify Rodrigues’ actions however we should not criticize him for doing something that a lot of us would have done as well, placed in his condition. We all could say we would never to something so wrong or we could never bring ourselves to do what he did, but most of us probably would. If I had walked into a room full of people being cruelly punished and was asked to do something, even outrageous, I would because that is the scenario I would be dealing with and the context in which I would validate the decision that I made. While Rodrigues could have inferred that the people were going to suffer whether he stepped or not, are we good people if we stand and no nothing? As Christians, should we not try to help others?
From another standpoint, Rodrigues mentality could also be evaluated. At this point in the novel, the silence from God was taken almost as a rejection to Rodrigues. He had questioned his own faith because he felt that lack of presence in Japan. The condition in which our minds are in affects every action that we perform. For Rodrigues, from a psychological perspective, his feeling of “rejection” led him to trample the face of Christ. It is not uncommon to have a feeling of wanting to dispel our anger towards a person. That feeling of “getting back” at something. However, using revenge as a reason for doing something immoral can be deducted as wrong. It would not make sense to defend a wrong action by another wrong action.
Personally, I do not think we are given enough to make a solid justification on if Rodrigues is right or wrong to trample the fumie. It is all perspective based. Do you think Rodrigues was thinking of helping others or was he scorned with revenge? The answer to that question most likely determines if you agree with his decision or not. However, perspectives aside and more from a logical view, was he right or wrong? Logically thinking, given his situation, he acted out of his humanity. The matter of the fact is we all care about our survival. We all do things to ensure our survival. I mean, life is the act of surviving and we all do things to protect it. Those things might not always be right or wrong, sometimes we will never know the extent they have. However, if we all did not think that at some point our decisions were right then why try so hard to defend them?
Deducting if Rodrigues was right in trampling the fumie is a hard task with justifications to both answers. There will always be right and wrong in the world and we will continue to make decisions knowing that.
“And then the Christ in bronze speaks to the priest: Trample!” (Silence pg. 183).
“and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15