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Losing a parent or loved one

My dad passed away on the first Thursday of February this year and I wasn’t able to attend his funeral (as that of my mother a decade ago) because I had influenza, couldn’t take an instant time off from work and a host of other reasons related to distance between 2 continents. His death, like that of my mum, reminded me of my own mortality and the urgency to live fully every day. (Oddly, I didn't think that I would become an orphan one day).

I hadn't gotten over yet with the loss of my mum and then my dad; and these days I often find myself recollecting childhood memories. They knew me better than anyone else and I wish they were here. Why aren’t they here now when I need them most? I was never dependent on them for moral, emotional and financial support since I left home at the age of 16 to go to university in another region, but I still feel the vacuum. As they say “you are always your parent’s child,” and I suppose such a loss doesn’t fade with time or age.

My relationship with my dad was harmonious but there were resentments due to hurts and misunderstandings resulting from his and my mother's life as a couple on one hand and as parents on the other. Their death has made me reassessed the past while dealing with the present and planning for the future.

Charlie... a month later

You certainly have heard a lot about the January 7, 2015 tragic shootings in Paris of 12 cartoonists, journalists and staff of newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The day after that, I received emails from friends worldwide, notably from Australia, expressing their profound sadness and sympathy -- describing such brutal act as a bloody offence against freedom of speech, liberty and peace. My responses included notes on immigration, identity, social inequality and education.

Global solidarity poured in instantly and there was a historic gathering of heads of states and communities in Paris on the 11th. Virgils and gatherings of support and commemorations took place in many cities in France, England, the USA and other countries, which were moving and impressive.

During that week, my French friend apologised for being late in responding to my email because she was distressed with what happened in Paris. I was intrigued by her testimony that I asked her if I could publish her write-up. I have translated it in English, and the French version follows after.

"I do not agree with what you write, but I will defend to death your right to write about what you think." This was written in the 18th century by Voltaire who experienced life in prison and exile for his writings that displeased people in power.

わたしは健二

أنا كانجي

أنا لست شينزو

إعطونا فرصة للسلام

 

私は健二。

私は安倍じゃない。

平和を我等に。

 

Je suis Kenji. Je ne suis pas Abe.

Donnez une chance à la paix.

 

I am Kenji. I am not Abe.

Give peace a chance.

Giving, Receiving and Reviewing

Happy New Year To You and Your Loved Ones!

Three weeks ago, one of my friends asked his wife what she wanted to receive as presents. Without hesitation, she said “love.” His eyes widened and said he meant something tangible. (Love is complex and unquantifiable and we need something to represent it). He insisted, “What can I buy for you?”

Nowadays, in many societies, cost is associated with love. The more we love the person, the more we spend on gifts (presents). There is a tendency to express appreciation in terms of “how much?” Gone are the days when handmade and creative inexpensive presents were valued as meaningful and memorable.

There are many occasions in our lives when we give presents: birthday, wedding, graduation, etc. Gift giving is universal and important in any relationship. Dictionaries define gift as a thing (for me, service as well) given willingly to someone without payment (I add, ‘not expecting something in return’) How about re-gifting? Have you given something that you had received from someone else? It’s environmentally and financially worthwhile to do this; however, a recipient may have a different view. When you receive a regift, what do you think and feel about it? Being the second born of 5 children and having both rich & poor cousins and both needy & generous friends, I am used to giving and receiving pre-loved belongings. I believe that sharing our possessions and experiences is part of being humane.

アマルティア・セン「一週間の一日一願」(スピーチ全和訳掲載)

2000年のシカゴ。場所はパルマー・ハウス(ヒルトン)。

中国人とフランス人の友人ふたりを誘い、その日、哲学学会に参加した。3人でエレベーターに乗りこむと、ホールの向こうにアジア人男性を見かけた。右往左往迷っている様子で「どこかで見かけた人だなあ」と眺めていると、その男性もエレベーターに乗りこみ、正面に向きなおり私の目の前に立った。その人の目を見ると、彼もにゅっと顔をつきだした。敏感に動作をあわせ応えてくれるのが、おかしかった。「セン教授ですか」と聞くと、「イヤァー」という答えが返ってきた。「これからあなたの講演にうかがうところです」というと「どこか知ってます?」と聞き返された。それがアマルティア·セン教授との最初の出会いである。

あの頃と比べると、教授は年をとられたかなと感じる。だが頭脳戦では、彼は現役そのものだ。学会では、真綿で首をしめるというのか、ドミノ倒しというのか。彼の論考は見えない赤い糸でつながっているのだが、丁寧に答える彼の姿にカモフラージュされて、次のドミノ牌がどこから倒れてくるのか分からない。いつのまにか気がつくと、論戦相手の有名教授がこてんぱにやっつけられるのを、私たちは見てきた。同じ碩学でもセンのは奥行きがあり、それが彼の魅力なのだと思う。同時に、畏怖も感じる。

。。。下につづく

Dublin Core
Author: 
Amartya SEN (author of 'A Wish a Day for a Week')
Subject: 
アマルティア・セン「一週間の一日一願」(スピーチ全和訳掲載)

This year and beyond

The year is coming to an end, and this is my last article in 2014. We've read and heard a lot about crimes, illnesses, injustices, the Ukraine crisis, shoot down of Malaysian Air Flight 17 with nearly 300 people on board, abduction of Nigerian girls, Ebola virus and on-going Middle East conflicts.

In fact, there are more happy stories and remarkable progresses than gloomy ones. There have been useful research findings and inventions, such as robotic exoskeletons that can provide support to a ravaged body that needs to heal. There are now about 3 billion people in the world who have Internet access. The FIFA World Cup, which was held in Brazil from June 12 to July 13 and won by Germany, was a success. The Rosetta spacecraft's Philae probe landed on Comet 67P, which was the first time in history. National and international laws have been introduced and collaborations established to combat organised and cyber crime, terrorism and tax evasion (e.g. US FATCA - Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act that requires US citizens, including those who live outside the US, to report their financial accounts held outside the country; and obliges foreign financial institutions to disclose to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information about their U.S. clients. This increases national tax revenues as it makes it difficult for US taxpayers to conceal assets abroad). There have been local and global meetings, conferences, working parties, fund-raising events and other gatherings addressing social, political, economic and environmental concerns.

ドローンの違法飛行とヨウ素剤

9月~10月。この秋、たくさんの妊婦さんのお腹をさわった。私のまわりは出産ラッシュで、ベルギー人、スロベニア人、アルジェリア人の友人カップル3組があいついで親となった。分娩室からでてきたアルジェリア人の友人は、出産シーンをくわしく知らせてくれた。2回ほど倒れそうになったらしい。

日本人の『叔母』としてはうれしいのと同時に、この子たちがこれから生きていく難事にみちた1世紀を思うと、心配せずにはいられない。

現在、私たちが住むルクセンブルグ市では、ヨウ素剤の配布作業が始まった。万一の原発事故発生(カテノム原発は市から南南東約25キロ、国境近くのフランス側にある)にそなえた実施で、全居住者にヨウ素剤と対応マニュアルが薬局で無料配布された。

ルクセンブルグ内には原発はないが、パンフレットには事故発生を知らせる速報、避難経路、子どものいる家庭、農家、自宅の菜園、飲み水、新鮮な野菜の確保などくわしく緊急用の対応が書かれている。

原発から25キロ圏の自治体に住む運命について、あらためて考えずにはいられない。私は日本と欧米で暮らしてきたのだけども。思い返せば大半は『原発銀座』の近くだった。幸い原発事故はなかった。が、大人になれば『他者におこったことは、自分にもおこりうる』と考えるようになる。

。。。下につづく

Longue vie au Shidōkan!

Cette année marque le dixième anniversaire de Shidōkan, club de iaido à Libramont, en Belgique, fondé par d'ardents disciples de Ogura Noboru Sensei, Gérard (Gési) Simon et Gérard Gatelier. Maintenant, le club entretenu avec succès par Gatelier et d’autres. Beaucoup de membres consacrent une bonne partie de leur vie à la pratique et à l’amélioration de leurs techniques de iaido et la connaissance des aspects philosophiques afférents à la discipline. Une personne, par exemple, fait chaque semaine 120 kilomètres de route pour aller pratiquer, tandis qu’une autre personne pratique près de 6 jours par semaine, gardant un jour libre pour que sa femme puisse le voir!

Je me demande ce qui est si fascinant dans le iaido (s’entraîner pieds nus dans un dojo pendant des heures). Une personne m’a dit que c’était "la poursuite du bien-être, celui qu’on gagne et celui qu’on partage."

(Lire la suite...)

年金があぶない!

著書の「資本主義の終焉と歴史の危機」(集英社新書、2014年)の中で、水野和夫は次のように述べています。

「私が資本主義の(しゅう)(えん)を指摘することで警鐘を鳴らしたいのは、こうした『成長教』にしがみつき続けることが、かえって大勢の人々を不幸にしてしまい、その結果、近代国家の基礎を危うくさせてしまうからです。(12頁)」

「このように、現代の経済覇権国であるアメリカは、『地理的・物的空間(実物投資空間)』での利潤低下に直面した一九七〇年代半ば以降、金融帝国化へ(まい)(しん)すると同時に、グローバリゼーションを加速させることによって『電子・金融空間』という新たな空間をつくり、利潤を再び極大化させようとしました。これがアメリカによる資本主義の延命策でした(38頁)」

社会学者のサスキア・サッセンは、近年の経済疲弊、富の一極集中、貧困の拡大などはエリートの陰謀というよりは、制度・組織・テクノロジーなど社会的なプロセスが生んだ結果で、それが世界中に広がっているとし、それを略奪形成(a predatory formation)と呼んでいます。predatoryというのは、他種の弱小動物を捕って食べる動物をいいます。

。。。下につづく

Patience

I am a great believer of reliability and consistency, so when my website became un-operational for 3 weeks, I became annoyed and impatient. I didn’t expect that renewing the registration of my domain (beingintelligentgifted.com) through a different company would take time. I spent useless hours trying to speed it up by using live chats, help buttons, etc. for the reason that I had always published an article in the first week of the month and was so frustrated that this had changed.

I delayed grocery shopping, postponed appointments, cancelled cinema outings and prepared dinner simply and quickly in favour of trying to put this website online. After so many hours spent fiddling with the computer, logging on/off, I decided to stop bothering my service provider. (Hopefully, the delay did not disappoint my wise subscribers and readers).

I wanted instant result though I was already told that it would take between 5 and 15 days. My parents brought me up to be patient and be gracious when waiting. But, have I changed? I hope not, and it was just a rare occasion when I thought that impatience was necessary to cope with our current high-speed, information-loaded society.

What did I feel during those 3 weeks? I was irritable, tired and tense. Some people have reported feeling angry, stressed, sick and detached from their relationships when they are impatient. So, why are we impatient? .. because we want instant gratification, which is evident everywhere these days.

There are passes that enable us to jump queues in cinemas, nightclubs, supermarkets, etc. When you post something, there are choices for one-day, 3-day, 5-day delivery or normal one. Quick leisure and fun activities, e.g. games on iPhone, are more patronised than chess and other board games.

Generally, patience equates to healthy and successful career and relationships. ...

ナオミ・クラインの新刊書。資本主義の害毒

日本が直面する貧困、格差、生活保護の切捨て、生活の質、幸福度の測定、環境、エネルギー問題、異常気象、規制緩和、遺伝子組み換え食品、地産地消、ブラック企業、国際貿易、TPP秘密交渉、戦争、(非)民主主義などの諸問題をよくよく考えると、資本主義とグローバリゼーションという大きな問題に行きあたるように思う。

これらの問題を考えぬかずに、からまりつながる複雑なシステムの全体像をさぐり、解決策をデザインしていくことはむずかしい。ややこしいが、お金がつくられるしくみもわからないと、いけない(ビデオを参考にしてください)。

資本主義やグローバリゼーションの泰斗(頭をよぎるのは宇沢弘文 、ギー・スタンディング)にはスーパースター(学者やジャーナリストのレベルで)も多いが、私が今、注目しているのは、サスキア・サッセンとナオミ・クラインのふたりだ。

今月9月にクラインの新刊書「This Changes Everything <資本主義>対<気候変動>」が発売したこともあり、彼女の短いインタビュー記事を訳してみた(ブログ後半。左派への5つの大事な教訓。ナオミ·クラインの新刊から)。読みやすくするための工夫をしたが、誤訳や改良する点があれば、指摘していただきたい。

。。。下につづく

Wealth and Health

Two weeks ago, I received a letter from the State advising me to avail of the free testing for colorectal cancer. It says "It has already been 2 years and is time to do this." All I've to do is bring this letter to my generalist who'll organise it at the expense of the French Government. Though the positive results are between 2-3%, it's fairly important to do it because colorectal cancer develops in the colon, rectum and intestine from an abnormal growth of cells that can spread to other parts of the body. The common signs of this cancer are: change in bowel habits, nauseas, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, weakness and anemia.

As such, I take this preventive measure seriously and feel lucky to be in a country where health, social and welfare services are accessible to its population. The government is wise because "prevention is better than cure." Treating an illness is more expensive, takes more time and is more emotionally draining. So, all governments should do this, but why don’t they? These preventive measures cost and, not really the priority, especially of those who are struggling to feed their people. Hence, it’s not surprising that, generally, wealthy nations have healthy people. However, there is also the question of politics and policies.

According to World Health Organisation's (WHO) data, the country with the highest government spending per person per year on health is Luxembourg (US$ 6,906/ Euros 5,441.60); country with lowest government spending per person per year on health is Myanmar (US$ 2/ Euros 1.60); country with highest annual out-of-pocket household spending on health is Switzerland (US$ 2,412/ Euros 1,900.73); and country with lowest annual out-of-pocket household spending on health Kiribati (US$ 0.2/ Euros 0.158).

Going back to work after a holiday

I am not a workaholic but love my job and one of the lucky ones who leave home with a smile then come back with a bigger smile. My students, who are mainly bank employees and whose interests range from football, food and wine to spirituality, have a good sense of humour. Nevertheless, getting back after a holiday is quiet a challenge. There are phone calls to return, paper work, backlog of emails and meetings. (I came back from Barcelona late last night and it is such a good idea to have one day off to recover physically before heading back to the class/training room).

Therefore, I have decided to plan how to handle this "back-to-work after the vacation" challenge. Firstly, since there will be no more hop on/hop off tours in Prague and Bratislava, tennis training at Cap d'Agde (France), Flamenco evenings (Spain), etc., I will just relax and enjoy the quietness. I will resume my Thursday Zumba and thrice/week visits to the gym.

Since I won't be able to catch up with everything in one day, I will prioritise my tasks appropriately and delegate, not only at work but at home. I'll definitely avoid the mourning period by seeing friends, going to the cinema and trying new recipes. I'll also put an ad for an hour of a friendly tennis game with a female beginner-player (like me).

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