Thursday, April 28, 2011

Skill and Will to Imagine 想像するためのスキルと意識

A Japanese newspaper wrote about our fundraiser (for Japan) on Maui.
Since the earthquake, I’ve been feeling and thinking about various things.

49 days have passed.

For people who have been working hard to ease the situation from outside might have felt 49 days passed very quickly. For people who have been directly affected and being in the situation might have felt each day as a torture; hence, 49 days might have been felt months for them.

In Hawaii, since it is geographically close to Japan, and there are many Japanese people as well as many Japanese descents are living here, even today people seem to continue to have a solid attention on Japan’s situation. Since the earthquake, there has been at least one if not more fundraising event every weekend.

Right after the earthquake, I was visiting the U.S. mainland. What I noticed was as I physically distanced from Japan, people’s attention on Japan seemed to lessen. Probably it cannot be helped. No matter how technology advanced, and information can circulate the world rapidly, we humans can only emphasize with pain of others when our “imagination” is activated. At places where Japan is still very much “foreign,” the materials for imagination are probably lacking. I was in the U.S. mainland for about 6 days, so by the time I was heading back to Hawaii, over a week has passed since the earthquake. Every day I was watching and reading news from diverse sources to keep up with Japan’s situation, and the more I learned, the more I knew how serious the situation was and was going to be. As I sat back in my airplane seat and wondered, “Now, what can I do?” I heard a family happily conversing, “When we get to Hawaii, we should go to beach first. Oh, we cannot forget to check out shopping malls, too!” Their delightedness did not bother me, and of course I had no slight will to censure their excitement. Probably it was their long awaited family trip. It might be their first visit to Hawaii. They must have worked hard to save money. They might not even know that there was a huge earthquake in Japan. If they did hear something, maybe for them, it was just another earthquake somewhere in Asia.

However, I could not help to questioned myself, “What is this difference?” and the question sat with me. At that very moment, there were thousands of people who lost their loved ones, homes, and everything, and on the other hand, there was a family getting excited for their vacation. Both worlds existing simultaneously with such gap in between intrigued me, and there was a quiet part of me that accepted it as it was. At the same time, I noticed the fact that I was caring about Japan even more because it is the country where I was born and came from. I wondered if I cared that much if it was not Japan. Did I care the same way when Haiti had the earthquake last January 2010? I don’t think so. The only thing I knew was Haiti was a country that is located somewhere between North America and South America. After the earthquake, I looked at the map and learned where exactly it was. And I even did not know what people in Haiti looked like. Like I wrote earlier, I did not have enough "materials" to use my imagination to respond to their suffering. Rather than learning their location on the world map, I did not put any more effort to collect “imagination-activation materials.” Whether it was conscious or unconscious, I decided to cut off my effort there. I think I was not thinking too much about it. Did I do anything to help people in Haiti? No. I only attended one event that was organized by my American friend, and I donated a very small amount of money which was like a drop on a hot baked stone. However, when it comes to my country, I am eagerly helping any event I can go and am even trying to put together one myself. If I extend my thoughts a bit further, it is obvious that Japan is not the only country that is suffering now. Wars, terrorisms, famine, illness, natural disasters… There are so many issues in the world. Because I did not pay much attention to those in the past, I felt ashamed of myself for all of sudden frantically asking for help when the problem was directly affecting my country. The family in the plane was mirroring myself…

However, being ashamed does not help anyone or anything, so I stopped being so, and I decided to do my best to help rebuilding Japan. It is like getting sick makes us understand what sick people are going through. Through feeling my own country’s pain, I find myself becoming extra sensitive to other countries’ pain. Due to the earthquake, I think my imagination skill was enhanced. Of course, it is impossible to own every problem in this world, and if I am paying too much attention on “pain,” I would end up giving hand to increase the negative energy in this world, and it won’t be much help to the world, so I need to remember to balance. While I believe that this world is filled with beauty no matter what, and I fill myself up with light, I would like to educate myself, so that my deed may be some help to ease some pain and fill this world with light.

----------------------------- Japanese ------------------------








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