Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Japan- sexist?

yesterday it was reported that one of the Japanese cabinet (Yanagisawa) said - and I quote -
Women are child bearing machines
He was not asked to leave despite many politicians outrage, what message is this sending out to the young women of Japan , if their Prime Minister doesn`t address such obvious sexism? There are also some other worrying developments since Abe`s arrival. The sacking of teachers who teach some facts about the second world war, the new rule that to graduate students must be deemed patriotic...

I will go to a talk about education on the weekend, keep you posted...

About being happy
I watched Will Smith`s The Pursuit of Happyness last night Yes it was cheesy in a Forrest Gump kind of way but the fact that it was based on the life of a real person made it more substantial - Chris Gardner
The film showed his commitment to something more than yourself, to keep going even when it gets really really tough. In his case it was his love for his son and desire to provide that motivated him even when he was homeless living in a shelter and toilet. What are our motivations? Its good to learn how to care for yourself in a healthy way, how can this be translated into a giving? IS being happy the ultimate goal. I read the Dalai Lamas book the art of happiness a while ago and from what I remember it talked about happiness being in letting go and surrendering. When I try to be happy I am often not happy, when I catch happiness it is ephemeral and wonderfully different each time.

About me and others My friend recently said by helping other people I help myself too. They give back to me too I have so much respect for that.

Love your neighbour as you love yourself. But I think this is often misunderstood as don`t think about yourself...You need to do both, you need self respect and to give yourself what you need before you can help others but its a symbiotic relationship. For me giving to others is good if I am doing it not out of guilt but out of joy and respect. I am so lucky to have what I do and I am grateful for that, but when I see homeless people in the park in Ueno or Yoyogi or anywhere I think that could be me so easily given certain circumstances, In October I came back from Australia and had no-where to live, my friends helped me, what if you don`t have that? I don`t think its wrong to be comfortable and have a home and things but the trick is to share with people maybe...

I will volunteer for a Japanese NGO this weekend called Second Harvest. They give out food to people in the Park. I am happy to be able to have the time to help, I can`t do a huge amount but I can start where I am.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

whats new pussy cat - green things

get up early attempting to see the sunrise (again) but too late. zah nen as they say in the land of the rising sun.

Monday was largely taken up with attending an environmental symposium at Musashino University just outside of Kichijoji.
Subject - sustainablility.

 Our lifestyles are to a certain extend already in place , so, what can we do an a practical and national level to save energy?. This Swedish/Japanese meeting addressed the subject through a variety of ways. First looking at concrete examples in Sweden and its nearby island of Gotland. Sustainable heating systems, wind power, recycling, alternative sources of energy for cars, reclamation of pastures, water re-use.

But the larger question is one of human organisation, co-operation and identity. Who are we? Are we part of a democracy who can work towards change? or are we merely cogs in a bigger industrial money making machine? How can we, practically change things? Torbjorn Lahti from the organisation Roberfors spoke about facilitation of social processes involving community, Networks and Ideas. Using the model of Manfred Max Neef he asked what are fundamental human NEEDS as opposed to human wants. In no particular order

They are not needs for objects but for relationships and a sense of belonging within a community.

the 5th generation concept of an eco municipality is this
1) Systemview undertanding - understading the inter-relatedness of the sytems
2) Particpatory process - democracy. this could be local people or individuals speaking up for what they believe in.
3) Integration
4) Networks on all levels - local to global
5)Professional Leadership - sucessful management of exchange programmes and platforms for these issues to be raised
6) Concrete examples of sucessful models for these ideas.

How can this idea be adapted for different countries and applied within different contexts?
In Japan Peo Eckberg has set up the One World network to foster intercultural exchange.

I find myself asking amid all this what are we as human beings? We are fundamentally relational, we communicate and invent new technologies to communicate over great distances. we organise ourselves into smaller community units of personal relationships (2)moving out into a circlular movement like a manadala into larger communitities. We now how virtual communities which help us specialize our interests. Is this good? we are becoming increasingly selective about our relationships. Is there space for a more general sense of community including communities that nourish each other emotionally and spiritually too where you don`t just pick people who you like but learn to co-exist with all kinds of people?


Over lovely hot chocolate and tea in Shimokitazawa I was talking to Nori-san from the Setagaya playparks project -----search for Hanegi Park on this site

She told me about her experiences in Bangladesh . An NPO project selecetd her to take 5 Japanese children to Bangladesh to meet children there. She said the children there seemed freer and happier than the Japanese kids, but on talking to them they said they envied Amercan and Japanese children because they knew they had a future. The Japanese children were always pressured and only thought about the future (Juku, syudying for some distant achievement). Perhaps true happiness is found in being able to balance these two.

Victor E Frankl in his book - Mans Search for meaning explores these questions. The book is partly an account of his experiences as a holocaust survivor. A question and an answer. When in the most horrifying and soul destroying situations how did people survive?. As a psychiatrist he used the experience as grounds for study and developed Logotherapy. The conclusions in a nutshell are you need to be able to appreciate present beauty but also have a sense of hope about the future whatever that may be. If man has a sense of purpose he can endure the most terrible suffering.