Rolltip 1. Build a Community.
I’ll be honest: Chihiro, later called ‘Sen,’ begins the film as a whiny kid. She’s frightened of everything, and she constantly complains. Her parents, though, aren’t different—they think only of themselves. It’s why they get into trouble.
This could be said of most of the characters in the film. Yubaba, the “villain,” is concerned with the upkeep of her business — namely, she wants cash. She doesn’t care about the rest of her employees in the Bathhouse, a place that offers respite to weary ghosts. But those who work for her aren’t much different. They steal and gorge and double-cross.
Such behavior creates a lack of community. But, unfortunately, this is encouraged in our modern world. We are taught to give into our lowest passions and destroy ties to others.
Roger Scruton argues that this is demonstrative of the ‘I’ attitude. In his book The Uses of Pessimism, he writes that “the ‘I’ attitude seeks change and improvement, overcoming the challenges presented by nature.” He contrasts this with the “we attitude,” which he says “seeks stasis and accommodation, in which we are at one with each other and with the world.”
After all, as Scruton writes, we “belong to a kind, and that kind has a place in nature.” We “depend upon others in countless ways that make it imperative to seek their approval.”
Chihiro needs to learn this. And we do, too.