Newman’s Nook: We Don’t Know What’s Best

Episode 17 of Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou) is entitled, “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.” It is fitting as the episode progresses and we see the interactions between the various characters. The newest teacher at the school, Aoki, has frustrated many of the characters with her good intentioned interference in their lives. While that topic may be worthy of an entire article on its own, I feel an important item to note is the Bible verse she reads early in the episode.

Aoki is one of the English language teachers. During the episode she reads to them in English telling them it is important mostly to hear the words in English. She reads her favorite Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 10:13. The English Standard Version of the verse reads as follows:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

It was a verse which felt out of place in a series about living at a yokai apartment building while dealing with the stresses of high school. Yet, did it fit with the episode and did it make sense as this character’s favorite verse? Let’s discuss.

As discussed above, the episode speaks to the nature of Aoki. In the episode, we see her butting herself into various situations with the students. In each case, she only sees part of the situation and assumes she knows what is happening. She is often wrong, leading to misunderstandings and hard feelings. Each of the students in the episode have to deal with the frustration of Aoki’s assumptions about their lives and their situations. Her good intentions lead to each of them being frustrated and angry with her.

Does the situation relate back to the passage of scripture Aoki read to the class? First, let us discuss the full context of the verse. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul is speaking to the history of the Nation of Israel’s moral failings in the past. He calls out specific failings that the people who purported to love God fell into. This was followed by an urging to not fall victim to the same sins of their ancestors. Do not give in, Paul implored to the people. This was followed by a reminder that yes, sin is difficult – but we all face the same things and nothing is new under the sun. Yet, God always provides a way for us to avoid sin. Always.

Throughout the episode, we find our characters all being put through the same difficult situation. A teacher acts as though she understands them and frustrates each of them with her misunderstanding of the situation. They each have a common, difficult situation. The students each are given chances to make it better. Each of them are given an opportunity to figure out how to respond, yet they do not do so well in most situations. If they were looking, though, they would have found an out each time. It’s not a great one, but it existed – placate the ego of Aoki. In so doing, there was an out for each of them – a way to avoid the awkward situation again. It took Inaba all episode to figure this out and it still frustrated him. It’s understandable. It’s frustrating to be misunderstood, especially by someone who is purporting to want to help us.

So, is it relatable to the Bible verse? Eh, not really in that regard. There is no long history of sin we’re discussing. There is no major moral failing of the past which is exposed for all to see. There is no sin which needs to be actively avoided through an out provided by the Lord. Or is there?

The truth is Aoki has become a gossip and her assumptions while filled with “good intentions” are wrong. Every time. The sin is not Inaba or the students who need to avoid it, instead we have a teacher who needs to realize the truth of the words she read. There are simple means for her to get out of the situation, every time, yet she avoids or ignores them blindly unaware of her own missteps. Yet, this is not an uncommon thing for any of us.

We walk into situations all the time thinking we know what’s best for everyone else. We don’t. We jump into situations only having half the facts assuming we can figure out the rest. We won’t be able to. We assume. We react quickly without getting all the information. We allow prejudice to enter in. We make snap decisions about the lives of others based on single pieces of information. All these things we can avoid if we take just a few moments to ask simple questions, listen to others, or just pay more attention. Or maybe, just maybe, we could just mind our own business instead of jumping into situations where we truly have no business entering.

Does that mean avoid situations where people are obviously in need of help? Of course not. Does that mean never tell anyone about the truth of the Gospel? Absolutely not. It does mean, however, to not make snap decisions about others based on the little information presented. Ask others how you can help if you suspect they need help and merely because you would react to a situation in a certain way, do not assume others will. We all respond differently as we are all so very different. Respect this truth.

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou) can be streamed legally on Crunchyroll.


9 thoughts on “Newman’s Nook: We Don’t Know What’s Best

  1. It’s funny to see an anime character to read a Bible and then also teach it in class. In today’s society, I hear that’s not allowed in public schools.

        1. That’s depressing and ironic. -___-; Then again, there’s no risk of a class full of Japanese people thinking of the Bible as anything more than good advice. But I often wonder whether we should be willing to take that “risk.” Why do we live in a society where expressing an opinion is equivalent to forcing others to agree with you? Or where a teacher believing something is the same as a government endorsement?

          As to the post, I wonder about how easy it is to balance meddling in things we don’t know with trying to help someone when we’re afraid that they’ll get hurt. It sounds like you’re mentally debating this yourself in this post, and I think I agree with much of the conclusion you come to. The best thing *is* probably to express what you believe without making a snap judgment about someone’s situation or circumstances, which may be quite different to your own.

          1. Yeah we should be able to express our opinions and stand up for what we believe in. It might be risky but it’s best to stand up against the crowd. Like God’s Not Dead 2, it’s best to be judged by the world rather than be judged by God.

          2. It is hard to not come across as meddling when you want to help. Asking how you can help is always a better place to start, though, than assuming you know how to help. That’s where the teacher went the most wrong. She assumed she knew what was best instead of asking what the situation was to see what they needed. Sometimes a person needs a friend. Sometimes, a person needs a friend at a distance, which is still comforting – but a different type of comfort.

            We are all different – sometimes wildly so. Assuming we know what’s best, is usually a recipe for disaster.

    1. You make a good point. Reading Bible stories today in school is definitely not allowed. Even in the context of learning about history/religion. It’s interesting how we’ve changed as a culture.

Leave a Reply