MY BOOK – Coming Fall 2014

1 - Web Version

My Book will be released this Fall 2014, by 2Leaf Press!!

Introduction by Gerald Horne

Foreword by Velina Hasu Houston

Cover Art by Kenji Chienshu Liu

Here are just a few preview comments about the book:

Fredrick Douglas Kakinami Cloyd has written a profoundly moving and thought-provoking book. He courageously challenges our neat categories of identity, going beyond broadening our understanding of mixed race to touch what is human in all of us. This book will shift readers’ perceptions and assumptions and may change many lives. Above all, Cloyd is a master story-teller who honors and respects memory.

–Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, historian and writer

This is a mature book that moves fluidly, as the mind moves, untroubled by traditional distinctions between writing considered to be academic vs. creative, memoir vs. personal essay, sure-footed in unexpected ways. This genre-bending book is not “experimental writing.” The author knows what he wants to say and he knows how he wants to say it, seeking, in his own words, “restoration and reclamation” for silenced voices and histories never erased because they have not yet been written. Dream of the Water Children demands that its reader rigorously consider the constructed nature of memory, identities, and historical narrative. And it is also an enormously kind and passionate chronicle of a son’’s long journey with his mother. To read it is to marvel, to learn, and to discover anew what surrealist poet Paul Éluard said: “There is another world, but it is in this one.”

–Patricia Mushim Ikeda
    Buddhist teacher / activist
    Oakland, California

Can be read as a ghost story, a meditation on how to disassemble the heartbreak machines; a catalog of copious tears and small comforts. This is a challenging example of personal bravery and filial love. It puts the “more” in memory.

–Leonard Rifas, Ph.D
   Communications, University of Washington

2Leaf Press Book LINK: http://2leafpress.org/online/dream-water-children/

Massacres, Democratic Societies, Colonization

This is a very short opinion piece on the massacre leading, so far, to 12 deaths — as of today, considered “one of the worst mass crimes in recent history” which occurred in Aurora, Colorado.

First, I want to remind readers that my perspectives are on social justice and social change and looking at history and relations of power, accumulations of dominance and resistances that create our lives.  I do not, detract from the deep sorrow and anger I feel, in various ways, about how this has occurred and the deaths and injuries and traumas that have come about.

This piece is very short and meant to be evocative, provocative.  I never speak of final conclusions and opinions that close off things and ideas.  I do not speak from a psychologized, or Christian or Muslim moral perspective, where “Good versus Evil” and “Crazy versus Sane” binaries rule.  I do NOT start there, nor do I begin there.  Those moralities and structures of dividing individuals, societies, dreams, and ideas, are not something I care to participate in.  Nor do I think they lead to social change or social justice.  Moral and Psychologized binaries always —ALWAYS– lead to more incarceration and more killing, more death sentences, more self-superior kinds of ways of dealing with the complexities of our lives.

Revenge and Roman gladiator coliseum mentalities still rule much of public emotion and reasons for setting up our “civilized” laws in a now globalizing colonizing mentality.  Disciplining and punishing (yes, I mean to evoke Michel Foucault’s famous book on the matter of internalizing violent structures through prison architecture).

In popular imagination, especially in the US, we have been culturally self-taught to believe that emotions are emotions and there are the sick and the unsick, the civilized and the uncivilized, the cruel and the nice, the crazy and the sane, the good and the bad.  We deal with it through the idea of either redemption and rehabilitation, and/or punishment or a combination.  Sequestering and putting to death.  Our creativity is gone.  What rules are the moralities we think are deep and real and true, and the moralities and spiritiualities and psychologies that we think we know and maintain and protect so dearly, even at the cost of arguments and fights at the dinner table and the ex-communication from groups, of friends and family-members that we love.

Let’s face it, modern civilization suffers from the “being right and good” syndrome.  Since we supposedly know these things, or can rely on “experts,” we make EASY EASY conclusions.  This means we don’t have to think.  We have lost the necessity for complex thinking.  Simple-mindedness is often valorized in US societies.  Being “Real” is often how this is languaged.

People want answers.

To have answers, means that any answer, any answer, will lead to further questions and further answers. I do not believe that things have “finished.”  Nor do I believe that the massacre that occurred “began” within James Holmes, the violent accused shooter at the movie theater in Aurora, or only within the shooters who killed at the 1999 Columbine High School spree in Colorado, or within the killer in Norway at the campsite approximately one year ago.  Yes these rampage killers are the carriers and shooters.

I have been just as saddened, in addition to the shooting and the deaths, at hearing the news reports and talk shows and reading the various articles across the board, in the US and in English language mostly everywhere, on how so many people around the world have begun to think alike on subjects such as death and life.

The same tired reactions and words and phrases and platitudes and moralities have circulated.  The same things I heard just after Columbine shootings and just after other mass rampage shootings, are being publicized and circulate.  We listen to the moralities of Left and Right politicians.  We listen to the church leaders and Hollywood personalities and song stars and talk show hosts.

It’s saddening.

People who shoot come from each one of us.  As we go shopping and care or not care for our own children and friends, as we say or not say things everyday, as we care and don’t care about certain people, we isolate.  In isolation, we accumulate cruelties that circulate.

Picking oneself up by the bootstraps–as an individual–is a norm nowadays.  Being normal, we do not question how it looks and how we perform these things.  In short, we are responsible for the violences that occur in societies.

We want the already-cruel, legalistic, bureacratic, psychologized, condescending, moral institutions to take care of “those people” so we can continue with our lives, as if our lives were rich and meaningful.  We try, but often we are fooling ourselves.  And further, we forget that we are fooling ourselves, convinced of our sureness, our goodness, our moralities.

The more thoughtful and intelligent people and thinkers and artists, have warned that our societies are in a deepening and darkening place.  It is not “normal” or “natural” or a product of “God.”  It is because each of us are not putting enough of our intelligence and creativity and strength into the complexities and changes required to take care of ourselves.  Almost everything these days, are in the hands of institutions.  When this happens, our own thinking is constricted, assimilated, and quite unresponsive to what is required.

People nowadays talk of being “smart” but who speaks of being “wise?”  Wisdom is something people don’t even understand anymore, from where I stand.  Compassion is seen only as something sentimental and kind and somewhat condescending.  Ooooh….you poor thing.   For those people like James Holmes and other people such as the Aum Shinrikyo Religious leader in Japan, who led the group to kill in the Japanese subways, we are not supposed to have compassion for “them.”

In this way, we ourselves are divided within ourselves.  We can learn a bit from some of the writings of Buddhism, where compassion is not compassion without the sword that cuts through bullshit and delusion.  It is strength.  And Wisdom is a cold and calculating “Rationality” that views itself “higher” in the presumed hierarchy of human experience than compassion and kindness and that it is an “opposite” quality – and therefore sometimes “in the way” of “true” wisdom.  Being “irrational” is the same as being insane, for many people, or a lower and “feminine”way that is unwanted.  This is left over from the Victorian era and mass colonization, the destruction of the feminine and the enshrining of SEXISM into our moral structures.  It keeps things rational and therefore these things are artificially separated into separate compartments.  In Buddhism, this must be seen through.  Wisdom is not wisdom without compassion.  Compassion is not compassion without wisdom.

The hierarchies that we perform in our lives are lived out in how we foreground something or background something, how we ignore some things while prioritizing others, how we know some things and how we perform with this unknowing. If contradictory things arise simultaneously, or are complex in any way, we may label it “confused” or “ambiguous” and therefore unwanted.  We “kill” an other.

First we must assume/presume, create that “other” that must be squashed and put away or looked-down upon.  Whether it be communities, people, beliefs or ideas, or ways of living and thinking, the civilized first-world nations and now almost every nation, has their own ways of doing this game of dominance and oppression.  To ourselves within us, to each other, and to that other.

Massacres and rampages are certain forms of the outcome of this, in a sociological angle.  No matter how we “understand” James Holmes, we still do not understand or accept what we have become and how, not James Holmes and the other monsters that WE CREATE through ignorance and uncaring, sentimentality and cold rationality, self-created moralities.

Massacres and rampages will continue because we as a society, ignore their causes.  The causes are not located in the individual that perpetrates, so that institutions can make money and gain credibility through scientific study, therapies and incarceration and death machines.  The society that created that person or persons who perpetrated, is us.  There are a myriad of causes and conditions we must deal with.

The violences we do, come also as ripples from the violence of our nation-state.  War and genocide built this nation, as much as resistance to dominance.  How we face up to uneasy complexities of nation and individual, various shades of history within us, is a big question. We must face how we have internalized the nation.  Americans feel that nationalism is what others do, but never acknowledge it within their own selves and lives and the structures of cultural realities.

And still, there are those who are deeply Christian, even if they are not religious at all, or even believe in religion.

I speak of how so many think that humanity is “inherently” evil, or bad.  Originally all humans are like this, according to that one snippet of Christianity.  Psychologically, a person usually internalized this from the structures (moralities and behaviors) of our cultures.  Colonization, first of this land in the US, and globally, has spread this kind of internalized oppression and made it normal.  Even the “good” things we do are meant to destroy good because in a deep deep place, there is that thought that we are “no-good” and we “always mess things up” and that the world is dark.  This is reinforced by modern socio-economic systems that delay and thwart our dreams, keep us slaves to the machine of money-making and money-spending.  We have to pay for WATER!!!  But hardly anyone is protesting on a mass scale.  Paying for water is not a “natural outgrowth of history or God.” Or we know this, but tell ourselves that it is futile to resist,  like it’s some act outside of human power and human privilege and the power of those that make the rules of violence. This his how we are responsible for giving the worst kinds of power and isolation and killing, their dominance in society.

There are many who are sensitive, very sensitive to what I’m saying.  Some act out. It cannot be suppressed for too long.

Yes there is danger.  But it doesn’t happen by itself.  Rampage killers are created by our society.  We must take care. If they are monsters, so are we.  We are intimately linked to what is happening.

Things can change.  But there needs to be further energy to make those changes.  But I’m afraid that there are so many people who are purposefully or by proxy–sadists, that social change will be slow in coming.  By this, I mean that there are so many people who divide the world into victim and perpetrator, and that there is joy in seeing someone put to sleep or put away into prison so they feel safe….not understanding that these are lives. The subconscious internalized colonization operates: I love it that they are in prison!  I love it that they have been put to death! Or… I don’t like it but they deserved to be tortured.  Some people won’t learn without violence.  What goes around comes around.  All the platitudes of our democracy.

All the sadism passing as superior morality.  All the violence.

Prisons and mental institutions and hospitals and psychiatrists’ offices.  These four things seem to be the ONLY THINGS many people think of, that will take care of society.

I say, each one of us do.  It is a painful request and a painful process to undertake.  Listen to ourselves, we are not easy and we don’t agree.  This is precise place where we must start.  Others cannot be convinced.  So what do we do?

Race-Nation-Gender-Class-Nation: Forget it. Never Forget it

Pat Parker (1944-1989), poet, teacher and activist, wrote this poem: For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to Be My Friend  and had this wonderful line:

The first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black.
Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.

For any social difference that exists in any society, we can place it there, in the space of “Black.”   In any case, color-blindness, gender-blindness, mixed-space blindness, sexual orientation blindness, socio-economic class blindness, neighborhood blindness, body-size blindness, nationality blindness etc. etc. —  we have to pay attention to how quickly we may subsume, make invisible, refuse (ignore), make trivial, something that makes a difference.  Sameness is too valorized in the globalizing society.  It’s not about any particular choices we have in holding on and letting go—-because even this is an action and a series of action (holding or letting go, that is), that come from political positionings that rely on privilege, luck, ability, amount of trauma, fear, violence, and a host of other things that come from oppression and social constructions of society.

Let us not forget how completely and utterly different we are from each other.  This way, we truly understand diversity.  If we “understand,” then perhaps we do not understand difference at all.  We just consume, co-opt, and bring into our own history and culture and language and values, that OTHER.  This is a violence to that Other.

But in saying they are different, do we automatically become AFRAID?   Or do we automatically become ANGRY?  Do we automatically IGNORE?  Do we assume we can translate, communicate?   Yes we can communicate, but understanding its partiality is important.

Honor you.  Honor me.

In our difference.  Utterly different.  Utterly ourselves.  Yet somehow, we are related as humans, as that who has experienced pain.

Perhaps other things.  But do not assume equality.

Be human.

There . . . . . .  Can we allow difficulty, struggle, powerful connection and dissonance?

March 10: US Military, Race & Sex in Japan

CRG Thursday Forum Series presents…

DEPLOYMENT, BASES, AND

THE U.S. MILITARY IN MOVEMENT:

Imaginging Japan and the Self through Race & Sex

Thursday, March 10, 2011

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

691 Barrows Hall

UC Berkeley

******

We Call It ‘The Rock’:

Circulating the Imaginary of Okinawa in the Military Diaspora

Mitzi Uehara Carter, Anthropology

My paper will explore how U.S. military personnel and their families, currently or formerly based in Okinawa (re)create and circulate narratives of Okinawa within military communities both in and outside Okinawa.  I will focus on how those narratives are shaped against their own identities as US soldiers, veterans, racialized/gendered citizens, spouses, and tourists within Okinawa.  Michael Taussig described the cultural productions of fear and the processes of sustaining Otherness in his work on colonial Colombia as a mix of  “Indian understandings of white understandings of Indians to white understandings of Indian understandings of whites.”  Likewise, I argue that Okinawan militarized and transnational space is a mix of military understandings of Okinawan understandings of US/mainland Japanese understandings to Okinawan understandings of military understandings of Okinawans.

This presentation will point to some of my general findings thus far, focusing on the framing of Okinawan difference.  For instance, I argue that local Okinawan difference from mainland Japan is emphasized and celebrated within military literature and welcome videos/blogs about Okinawa for military newcomers to Okinawa, a long used political and cultural tactic that was so effectively encouraged and orchestrated by US military administrators directly following WWII to try to quiet Okinawan dissent and slow the popular momentum to revert to mainland Japan.  However, when military and Okinawan relations are enflamed, the framing of difference is erased and the discourse shifts to a more global scale and fits in more with the US-Japan power bloc configuration of power.

~~~

Being a Black MP in Postwar Japan:

Memory and Identity through Resistance and Accommodation

as a Subaltern Occupier

Fredrick Cloyd, California Institute of Integral Studies, Anthropology

The positioning of the US as a victorious occupier over the subordinate and pliant people of Japan as the defeated was a carefully choreographed affair after WWII with its precursors in imperialism, colonialism, and neo-liberal capitalist expansionisms. In Japan and Okinawa, during and following the official occupation, steady anti-US violence by the Japanese was barred from being reported in the strictly controlled military and civilian media while the different racial groups in the Allied and US military were also living in violent relations with one another on and off bases in Japan, Okinawa and Korea. In this atmosphere of the occupation, my father re-imagined himself from poor African-American man to occupying military police. My mother wanted desperately to escape the ruins of Japan, both imaginatively and literally. In researching for a book on my family’s life and legacies, in thinking/writing nation, culture and race–colliding together through war and re(de)-construction, how has my father viewed himself through the lens of race and nation/husband and father? What becomes prioritized? What becomes linked with frames and thoughts previously unrelated? What becomes new forms of dominance and resistance that continue or resist certain forms of justice and survival?

Delicious refreshments served!

More info: http://crg.berkeley.edu/content/deployment-bases

CRG March10_flyer

Happy New Year – for blasians???

A New Year!! Another useful and constructed moment in our passing of life and time. Can we use it? And in using—what do we repeat? What do we do that we think is great but repeats some kind of problem? What do we do that would be fantastic if it weren’t for someone or something, some force–crushing it at its birth? What have we not thought of? What can we do if we’re too busy caught in traps of what we’ve inherited? What can we do if we’re too busy not acknowledging and perhaps honoring our ancestors and how they live in us? The photo on this blog is an example. The Black-Asian ‘beautiful’ is made into something. By what for what?

Celebrate and lament? I am happy for the new categories that now proliferate across America, then to the world, on identity formations, labels and then political jostling. Re-shuffle, renew, engage, dismantle….yes the new identity categories for mixed-race peoples are growing in our globalizing, corporatizing, shifting world. But people forget so easily, that each of our nations, countries, cultures, come from what has passed–what is good and bad. I, for one, wish that we would become more educated and more ethical. Knee-jerk, spontaneity is great but can also hurt, debilitate, crush, annihilate, make invisible, as well as create the ‘new.’ Too much speculative forms of intellectual play can disconnect, hurt, debilitate, crush, annihilate, make invisible, as well as constructing the ‘new.’

Just to mention the different labels and ways of being in the world with race and racial terrain, in culture and nation, subaltern and dominant, we have created many things. For those of us whose heritages are of African/Black and Asian, living in the US, there are now a host of different cultural and heritage labels: Blasian, Blackanese, Blambodian, Amerasian, Hapa, Blorean, Blietnamese, AfroAsian, Black-Asian, Japa-nigga, Blilippino, on and on and further. We can see, also in the US, that identity is often about ‘feeling happy with our self’ and wanting the world to ‘accept us.’ It’s almost always about the ‘self.’ Often, we may connect this to a color or race, memories. But where is social justice? I’m not talking about getting what we want in the USA. Is race and color enough for unity? And if it isn’t, then arent’ we participating in the very disconnecting, isolating structure of individualism – that is devoid of history? I’m all for individuality. But extreme individualism is often the result of the isolating ‘self’ and glorification of a hero-self; successful ‘self’, the happy ‘self’ and the perfect ‘self.’ In the US, often, this is how identity and life is supposed to be lived. Or it’s the nuclear family version of making our specific families happy, glorious, accepted.

In Japan, the self is assimilated into blending in, to doing what ‘Nihonjin-ron’ wants. Most Black-Japanese in Japan, for instance, are working in bars, as singers or are agents of entertainers and models. The most beautiful and ‘exotic’ looking ones are in singing and modeling. They are ‘forced’ into a version of ‘Blackness’ borrowed from Japanese images which are from the American commodified versions of Blackness. Indeed, in the US, most Blackanese struggle to be other than ‘only-Black.’ Often, I see Black relatives and friends of mine, accuse me and others I know that are Black and Asian mixed, of being afraid of or not proud or dismissing Blackness if we claim another heritage. “We’re BLACK.”

I’m afraid that those of us in my own generation, struggle to be part of the dialogue and mix on cultural heritage. This also means the PROXIMITY TO WAR CULTURE needs to be examined. Amerasians from Vietnam may be somewhat ‘better off’ in the USA but are still going through nightmarish existences under prejudice in Vietnam. Especially if one of their parents is Black. In Korea and Okinawa and the Philippines, there is the ongoing existence of American military bases. Around the bases, there are what is called ‘Base towns’- which have a culture all its own. Children of American military men and local ‘Asian’ mothers are plenty. Most of them without their fathers who have left their girlfriends with child. And there is the further reality of sex-work and survival for many of these women, who are stigmatized. The offspring of these women are ostracized and abused.

Laws, of course, don’t help in most cases. For instance, many of the children of Japanese mothers are considered STATELESS. They are nether citizens of Japan or the US, since they are born to single mothers. However, if they are children of JAPANESE MEN and American women, they are Japanese citizens. This creates horrific circumstances for both the mothers and the biracial children. Often, the US military refuses to take any responsibility for the tens of thousands of babies born to US military men and the local Asia-Pacific women. For Black-Japanese, Black-Okinawan, Black-Korean, Black-Filippino, Black-Vietnamese, Black-Cambodian biracial children, there are many hurdles and perhaps made impossible through the combination of local racism and anti-Americanism and both the local laws as well as US law.

I am a child born in the 50s in Japan, then able to come with my father and mother to the US in the 60s. I experienced tremendous violence in both Japan and in the US growing up. I also experienced tremendous support and love from certain individuals in both countries. I am a child whose proximities to World War II is very close. Those born in the 1940s and living, are even closer. Those born after these periods, still experience the residuals emotions and parenting from the parents and/or orphanages or foster homes or the streets in which their childhoods were formed. Many honor their fathers, but not their mothers. Or mothers are relegated to the label ‘war bride’ and are made tragic heroes who served lumpia or kimchi or takuan with some kind of ‘Black’ food and cuddled us at night. It’s an ‘exoticizing’ that works well into blending into American society, becoming entertainment for others to oggle us. It’s very gendered and unaccommodating to historical realities. When African-American men were fighting for their survival and dignity in the 1950s through 70s for civil rights in the US, it was a tremendous struggle. But for the mothers who often lived through devastation through bombings and then perhaps various ostracizing behaviors and abuses from their families and/or the general cultures, then perhaps experiencing displacement in coming to the foreign country, in fear and trepidation and confusion, then what is our family and how shall we honor?

Across generations, across proximities to wars and military bases, across gender, across nation and poverty and or wealth, across rank, across civilian/military divide, across language, how can we work together????? What is pride when it is not about raising our brothers and sisters in other places and other memories and existences? What about ourselves? Is becoming a middle-class success enough? In globalization, one of the key factors in globalizing, is FORGETTING. The reality of forgetting makes us weak, depressed, isolated, dishonoring, disconnected. Of course, there are some things that should be forgotten. However, there are things that some people cannot forget. Memory is in the body, forever there. For others in privilege, forgetting is normal and perhaps made superior. Often, we relegate social traumas (such as experiences of extreme violence, prejudice and war/genocide) to something that is abnormal and taken care of in therapy. It’s so convenient.

In the US, the victorious of World War II, the nation was created. People helped make bombs and planes. I am also grateful, lest Japan would have continued with their terrible weapons of imperial suicide. Now America plays out self-destruction. In being ‘Blasian’, or multiracial black-asian identity, what does this mean? So you are happy. Now what? What shall we do in this new year?

‘Taint’ – afro-japanese poetic musing & Point

TAINT

I exile myself from myself.  and YOU——-Don’t see yourself as…….Tainted.   If you do….you hide it and make me tainted and I see you Sad.   And that makes you see me angry, insane.  Impossible.

When I do, I’m home.   Home is exile.  Exile because there’s no way what you call ‘home’ can be mine.

And as if home doesn’t change, morph, move into something — always unrecognizable.  It’s too late for recognition.  But I will show you something and you will recognize it for what you think and feel and hear and taste.  My body is colonized by your gaze.

We’re people-of-color.  That’s an identity that’s tainted.  But without it I completely become white and Japanese and black. Colonized by those rules of walk, talk, understanding, dance.

When I choose my ‘own’ way, I know it’s not my own.  It’s been handed down.  If so, who gives a shit?

It doesn’t matter in this so-called ‘post-social’ world of ours….alienations and displacements where people who have had communities continued in another land, another space/time and call it ‘home’ will ————look down——-down——on me and those like me.  And we can pretend to be brothers and sisters because we share.  And some who don’t look down on me,  think we are equals.   No time/space, no legacy, no sekihan, cho-cho, miso shiru, barbecued ribs, konketsuji, nigger, left unconscious dead.   I’m not allowed.  So in that time where you cannot bear my pain and it is exiled into me, we SHARE ———the colonized mind.   But there are those who do share.  There’s no need for the pain, but there’s a need for allowing and alliance.

Can we ‘Be’——with our differences?   The thousand bombs and body-part explosions, mushroom clouds and slavery whips, and imprisonments of my ancestors and the occupation of my body in heterosexual mindscapes and border-guard territories———will NOT make you superior to me. Because you don’t remember.   Forever you may enslave yourself but I remain TAINTED in your result, your gun.  Your attitude-pistol that props you up WITH it.   Instead of takuan, I eat hamburgers in that place.  But I eat takuan uh huh.   Hungry.

Forever blackened in your multicultural superiority that pretends equality.   Forever not right.  Forever imprisoned.  No matter how many songs I sing to you, no matter how many silences and gentle hands, I’m only a big penis, a tawny muscle movement, a …a…..a….a.  some ‘THING’ that is compared to your utopia. Utopia……the unconscious colonial organ.

‘Thing’ yourself with your colonized mind, until you crave, then so so tired   tired     you start to see me.  Perhaps someday….we may actually touch beyond eyes here.  Right here, and between your complete and beautiful to my complete and beautiful.  Always it is part, incomplete, moving and dancing in time.  complete is incomplete always and beautiful, but justice moans. Then we understand that we are scarred.

Scarred and twisted in your so-called will to perfection.  That is perverted….tainted.  Just ‘being’ I am tainted because YOU are tainted.  Funny thing is…. there doesn’t need to be this———TAINT.  But what?

Taint me and I you.   Let’s walk y’all.

Kindness & Miracles: A Song – やさしさに包まれたなら~ Sotte Bosse

This song was sung by many female artists in Japan, including Matsutoya Yumi and Arai Yumi. This version is sung by the group Sotte Bosse.

やさしさに包まれたなら – IF WRAPPED IN KINDNESS

It is a sweet, innocent song about kindness and becoming an adult, hope.

It is interesting to note that songs like this are not considered appropriate for males to sing. If so, then we all know what names and labels would ensue toward that male singer or singers. It speaks to the heterosexism and sexism of our dreams and hopes, what we think of kindness and where ‘it’ belongs. In other words, kindness and affection and gentleness are feminized. They are feminine traits. In this way, as patriarchy reigns supreme in our divisions of emotions, we become further militarized, hopeless, forever in war/peace dualities. It also speaks to the ‘loss’ of innocence as we begin to live in the world. Our notions of a God change. Violentized, where can we turn? Forgetting. Forgetting. Forgetting. Or perhaps we FORSAKE. We forsake. We refuse. We go along with the notion that dreams die and war is norm. It starts with worldview. It starts with giving up. It can also become disempowering as we want the world to be kind and good and gentle and it never is. So we succumb to depressions.

We must work to change. It cannot happen by wishing and by drive-by kinds of actions and McDonald-ized notions of immediate gratification. In even more complex ways, our wish to make life kind and good and peaceful, we may create further problems because we do not look enough at our racisms, classisms, nationalisms, etc. and how power-relations make our relations fragile. We can, perhaps, turn these lyrics into a form of remembering, then into tough and thoughtful actions that include history. Little by little, I think kindness can enter. In fact, mindful and thoughtful actions are kindnesses in themselves, even though they may sometimes be tough and harsh as actions against the victory of oppressions. Adultism begins the common factor in all of our lives that foment further learning of oppressions. Forgetting our childhoods in many ways is perhaps a blessing. But there are some aspects we should not forget. Boys. Girls. Men. Women. Children. Adults.

I like the innocent sweetness of this song. Remembering, if for a single moment at some point in our lives. Not forsaking. But not being naive.

小さい頃は神さまがいて
不思議に夢をかなえてくれた
やさしい気持で目覚めた朝は
おとなになっても 奇蹟はおこるよ

カーテンを開いて 静かな木洩れ陽の
やさしさに包まれたなら きっと
目にうつる全てのことは メッセージ

小さい頃は神さまがいて
毎日愛を届けてくれた
心の奥にしまい忘れた
大切な箱 ひらくときは今

雨上がりの庭で くちなしの香りの
やさしさに包まれたなら きっと
目にうつる全てのことは メッセージ

カーテンを開いて 静かな木洩れ陽の
やさしさに包まれたなら きっと
目にうつる全てのことは メッセージ

(1)

When I was young there was such a thing called ‘God’
and God would strangely make dreams come true
In the mornings when I would awaken with kind feelings
Knowing miracles appear for adults as well

Opening the curtains If I were to be wrapped inside
the gentle sun ray, then maybe
Everything that comes in front of my eyes becomes a message

(2)

When I was young there was such a thing called ‘God’
and everyday God would make my way of Love ignite
Shut away and forgotten in the back of our heart/mind
is a precious box that is now time to open

In the garden after the rain
through the fragrance that speaks without sound
Everything that is reflected before my eyes becomes a message

(3) (instrumental verse)

Opening the curtains If I were to be wrapped inside
the gentle sun ray, then maybe
Everything that comes in front of my eyes becomes a message

Comments on Joss Whedon’s blogpost regarding Women in society

This post is dedicated especially to those who struggle to live in a world dominated by heterosexism, patriarchy and its various violences (i.e. everybody).

Link to Joss Whedon’s excellent post follows my commentary.

Joss Whedon is perhaps most famous for his show-runner/creator role in the US for television shows such as ‘Angel’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire-Slayer.’ He enjoys a large cult following globally. I feel he is an excellent producer/writer. In a blog post he wrote May 20, 2007, entitled: “Let’s Watch a Girl Get Beaten To Death,” he speaks strongly about heterosexism and the control of women in the world. His words are sparked by the broadcasting of the stoning-death of a 17-year old Yezidi Kurdish girl from Iraq.

Dua Khalil Aswad, a 17-year old Yezidi Kurdish girl from Bashka Ninawa in Iraq, was stoned to death on April 7, 2007. Her death was broadcast on the internet via recordings from a mobile phone. Her stoning has been said to have sparked several ‘reprisal’ attacks and massacres by Sunni Muslim fundamentalist extremists against certain Yezidi villages. Dua Khalil was a girl from the Yezidi culture/worldview, which pre-dates Islam. Much like Alevism, Yezidism has also been a persecuted religion by certain more fundamentalist Sunni and Shi’a groups. The division between Sunni and Shi’a has also sparked some violent antagonisms through history. Let us not forget that fundamentalism and extremism create these licenses to torture and kill. For women and children, this is even more pronounced.

Fundamentalism and extremism exist everywhere and in many forms. In the US and Europe, most of it is hidden behind closed doors and plays out violently in domestic spheres hidden from the public or inter-personally, and in the more poverty-stricken neighborhoods where most news programs and citizens of wealthy countries do not spend much energy or time. Much of it plays out unseen to the public in policy-making wars in government. Exclusions and dominations are everyday aspects of our lives.

When I was doing research on Kurdish groups in Europe, the United States, and in their traditional homelands in the Middle East, I often questioned my Kurdish friends on ‘honor killings.’ I was always mindful to not blame or speak from a feeling of being ‘better’ as an American or Japanese, which is always the risk in bringing these things up when one is ‘a westerner.’ In most cases, most Kurds think of honor-killings as horrendous and needing to stop. In many cases, Muslims who did not agree with honor killings, were correct in understanding that certain tribes, pre-dating Islam, practiced these killings, much like certain tribes in Christian areas. Those traditions have been carried on in certain families and Islam cannot be the blame. In a few cases, there were those who were quite open with their anti-female attitudes and told me that if they are dishonorable, they should be punished. They sounded the same as some of my American friends who felt that all gays should die or that the ruin of the world was when women were allowed to vote and work alongside men. One can imagine the non-heterosexual boys and the girls who are being raised by these men. We, the other people, know what goes on.

Intensifying the questions and investigative energy that I acquired when asking my Kurdish friends about honor killings, various kinds of anger and blame had to be side-stepped in the name of academic research and my own willingness and desire to get through to depths beyond the superficial and the spectacular of such horrific actions as honor killings in society. In the west, sudden gun-shooting rampages, Columbine, and daily rapes and tortures unseen and unreported, are also questions I have spent the last decades on deciphering. I do not believe in original sin, so the sickness of humanity, as far as I know, is not because we are born sick and twisted and violent. Things develop. But things also have pre-texts, histories, traditions, legacies. We are born into these. My thinking/feeling is that as long as they have been developed in history, they can also be undeveloped, shifted, constructed differently, albeit most of the time, in slow trajectories through our small, urgent, and sophisticated actions.

When asking leaders of certain Kurdish, Islamic, or Persian organizations regarding the traditions of honor killings, they were quick to blame ‘poor’ and ‘uneducated’ people on this. It was interesting, then, to discuss how, in certain cases, their own family members practiced this on a sister, or a niece, or another female member. In some of my friends’ cases, they may have grown into certain middle-class wealth but originally came from poor villages. Others, had come from wealthy families where perhaps one or two of the boys participated in honor killings. In some cases, I have also heard of honor killings against men, most for being homosexual. This points to another aspect of the violence of our societies. Our heterosexism also plays into the ignoring of male-targeted violence and publicizing anti-woman, anti-girl violence. The invisible killings of gays in culture, whether spiritually or physically) and male-to-male violence are normalized and therefore unattended to, while in the western nations there is a certain glorification of our horror at violence against girls and women. This system keeps everything in tact.

When speaking of these intense issues of violence, what we hear cannot always be assumed to be ‘truth’ or ‘lies.’ It is difficult, at this juncture, to get a feel for when things were down-played or made to ‘sound’ democratic and caring, when in fact, they did not believe their own words in wanting to dispel honor killings; or whether they truly wanted it to end. After all, I was an American and they wanted to be seen in the best light. I have questioned US Americans on their gay-bashing weekends where they tortured a gay boy behind a bar, and they were sometimes apologetic but I did not believe them. I am sure in some cases, they did change their thinking on this, but one can never be sure in the reality of face-to-face politics. However, in knowing most of my Kurdish friends and being with their families, I am certain that they held nothing back in their belief in the respect of women, simply by watching the consistency between their actions and beliefs while I spent time with them and to watch how Kurdish girls and women responded to them.

One Kurdish political figure I interviewed, became angry with me for questioning her (yes she was a woman) on honor-killings among the Kurds. She accused me of being an American who always wanted to present Middle Easterners in a bad light. She said she was tired of it, and began to name events and attitudes of the Americans that would qualify as the same–the denigration of women and its structural elements in the present world society. She was a strong woman who worked among the Kurdish and Middle Eastern elite and worked for human rights, gay rights, women’s rights, and Kurdish rights in the diaspora and in the Middle East. She was right in the sense of the ‘honor killing’ concept to be barbaric, yet propped up differently in the West and often ignored. Women in the US are often killed ‘spiritually.’ Internalized oppression also plays into how women play these dynamics out themselves.

This brilliant political woman, also told me that honor killings was a general Islamic problem in certain areas and was not a ‘Kurdish problem.’ I found this comment to be half-true. Yes, it is not a Kurdish problem. I responded back: “But Kurdish girls, women (and some boys and men) are dying from this. So don’t you think Kurdish leadership should work on it within the Kurdish community?” She agreed but she said that it is at the risk of being accepted by the West. In her logic, she said that if they began to work on it as a Kurdish issue, the four countries that rule the Kurds at the moment, as well as Europe and the US, would use this as a way to demonize the Kurds in world politics, just as they were trying to form more Kurdish empowerment in the community. The West, she believed, would quickly allow the Arab countries to continue what they do, while they could get more oil from them, while blaming the Kurds for honor killings and strengthening Turkey and the other Middle Eastern countries in their efforts to annihilate the Kurdish culture. I would also add here that for Yezidis, Alevis, Dersimians, Christians etc. who are also Kurdish, there are even worse pressures to consider. Mainstream Sunni and Shi’a Kurds would also join with Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian mainstream Muslims in the denigration of them as ‘other.’ There is, in many cases, violences visiting them from other Kurds because of mainstream Islamic domination. In my experience, this was intense, as well as meeting many Muslim Kurds and Turks who felt that religion should be about peace and that those forcing violence on non-Muslims were wrong. In working on sexism and violence against women, as well as against gays and lesbians and non-heterosexually identified peoples in conflict zones, how do we respond?

She is right about the political strategy, I feel. But also, she was side-stepping the honor-killing issue. In the middle-class oriented culture of state-making, and elitisms, the honor-killings continue to work in many societies. It is not just a moral sexism issue. It becomes geopolitical, which holds racism and nationalism to be at play in this.

It is indeed easier for a westerner to criticize quickly and to not think of history and relations when intervening. Certainly we must criticize honor-killings and violence against women. But as a westerner, we must be respectful of painful family histories and politics. We can easily get someone killed even for speaking with us about these issues. We are easily racist and nationalist in having condescending attitudes toward those who practice honor killings. It has been a long road of violence. When a culture or community faces annihilation by western nations, dominant local nations (n this Yezidi case we can speak of the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as diasporic communities around the world) how can we intervene without the communities feeling encroached upon (western racism and moral high-grounds)? Do traditions easily change by our wishes in other communities? If not, do we just let things be? How do we work together? How can we empower stateless communities such as the various Kurdish cultures including the Yezidi, who are also oppressed by local communities? These are not easy answers. We must work urgently yet compassionately. Understanding histories and power-relations and thinking creatively would be a good start.

Photo of Du’a Khalil Aswad

In the West, women are, on the most part and often, still acting as objects of patriarchy and violence. This also allows male-to-male violence to be seen as ‘normal’ and ‘boys-will-be-boys’ continues unspoken and rarely paid attention to. At the point when the gun shoots, or the knife is wielded or the fist is thrown, it is too late. Hundreds and thousands of hours have constructed that moment. What I mean to say is that what people consider ‘violent’ is just the final act. Violence is in words, thoughts, motions, worldviews. Women also play into their own subservience through internalized oppression. Just today, I heard the ‘I’m sorry’ by women twenty times!!! For just stepping past me in the elevator or some other act I consider everyday. I consider this to also be a form of internalized oppression, internalized violence.

I remember a woman-friend in college who was always speaking of men being violent and macho and that just once, she would like sensitive caring men in her life. However, one day when she saw a man crying because his dog died, she called him a ‘fag’ for crying. I pointed out to her that a sensitive man was perhaps the last thing she could take. What would happen to ‘womanhood?’ When women take the place of the man in an already-patriarchal and violent system, do they become like men? What would be the requirements for de-violentizing our society? What would be required to live differently in a world not propped up by our own internalized oppressions and legacies? Our fears? And as we, perhaps, back-down from dreams and actions toward change and hope, we re-create the violences and oppressions. What are our choices? Can we respect women while disrespecting men and boys? How does this need to be shifted?

Joss Whedon’s excellent post from 2007, is an excellent example of admonishing ourselves to step-up, step-forward; not succumbing to brutalizations that happen through us in the largely heterosexist-dominant world systems into which we have been born. We have the power to change things. We must.

Read JOSS WHEDON’s excellent blog here:

http://whedonesque.com/comments/1327

For more information on Du’a Khalil Aswad: wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoning_of_Du%27a_Khalil_Aswad

Yezidi / Yazidi people/culture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazidi

Joss Whedon blog: http://whedonesque.com/

Chimamanda Adichie – Single Story Perception & Understanding

Nigerian novelist/writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s writings are among the many good works that present stories of difference.  In the video here, she gives a fantastic talk about how multiple stories of one subject, are important in how we may interact/not interact with that subject; perhaps in a more thoughtful or just way, ideally, than approaching a subject with a single story in conscious/unconscious mind.

This is an important point which I, in its basic way, agree with.  We are multiple, we are not singular.  Our stories have multiple points and trajectories, multiple positions from which we come to life and how our stories are told to self and other, can determine many attitudes and opinions and processes.  If our multiple-ness, is taken into account, then perhaps there is more patience, more reflection and pause, more of a place from which to engage other, perhaps understand positions in relation to culture and oppression, resistance and heritage, privilege and sorrows, joys and questions.  Single stories do cut-off history, cut-off political positions brought on through histories, cut-off the circulation of the realities of life and its movements in time and change.  Multiple stories may open avenues in taking these into account.

This being said, I have a critique of one aspect that may come up in listening to, seeing, and engaging this talk which is so eloquently spoken.  It is what I have mentioned before in my blog posts, and through which I speak on practically every post.  It is this question of how to accept/not accept: Difference.  I do not say that Chimamanda Adichie means one thing or another, but I am certainly opening up a discussion about how she approaches the topic of difference.  She says that people often have single stories and this closes a ‘fuller’ understanding or the realization of the similarities between people, communities and cultures.  She then goes on to say that people have more similarities than differences and there is an assumption that this is ‘better’ or that it is a fact of life that there are more similarities, which means this is more positive.  I am not sure that she means this exactly, but this is certainly one way in which Chimamanda Adichie speaks to the difference/similarities dynamic.  I say that this ‘similarities and differences’ polarity is not eternal, or a set of natural ‘facts’ and that this similarity that is so often prioritized in the world, is not positive necessarily.  To put it another way, I think that valorizing similarities is an act that can legitimize violence based on difference, with the matter of sameness and similarity being measured and applied as criteria for treating someone or a group or thing, with respect or dignity.  This is a problem with liberal thinking as well as conservative in the United States.

The measure of similarity and sameness should NOT be a criteria for measuring respect or how we treat someone or culture or community or history, or how we approach avenues for engagement and/or understanding.  Not understanding should be just as much of a pleasure and accepted space.  In fact, the reason there are more similarities today than ever before, is that there is less diversity.  One can go to any scientific journal and there, it is no secret.  There are extinctions in progress, as well as less species of most of the beings on this earth, as human beings increase their numbers.  There is less diversity not just because of over-population.  I say there is less diversity because of neo-colonization– i.e. globalization, which is an extension of colonial expansionism and what goes along with it in the nation-state system:  homogenization.  Everything is become more of the same.  This sameness has been constructed through history through the colonization of minds and lands, cultures and ideas, killing, torture, coercion and manipulation and exclusion through laws, textbooks, military weapons, covert agents amidst cultures, educational policies, judicial systems, and everything else we know to be our reality.  Assimilation and exclusion have worked hand-in-hand in order to create national cultures in the global system.  This is a continuation of the colonization process.  Difference can only be understood.  It cannot be different and not understandable.  This is the reason we must experiment on people and animals, develop stories around them that make scientists and counselors wealthy and create medicines and psychologies that deem certain things abnormal, inexcusable, sad and assimilatable, or wrong.  Learning to question ourselves and others become wrong.  It is now normal to think of everything as right and wrong, good and bad.  We either know, or are embarassed to say we don’t know.  Or we just repeat what our elders and teachers have taught us, or our parents, or our own reactions to what they’ve said because we have hated them.  In any case, our perceptions of reality do not accept difference as well as we would like.  So if we are to follow Chimamanda Adichie’s path, we come to the same tactic of exclusion and marginalization.  There is not acceptance of difference if we only look for and fetishize ‘similarity.’  Looking for a mirror in others is a sure way to the death or invisibility of both yourself and other.

You can do your own experiment. For instance, go through the history books of practically any culture group through history and pick out pictures of soldiers and their uniforms over time.  So start with pictures and drawings of how soldiers in Turkey or in Guatemala or in China or England looked in the 12th century, the 14th century, then the 17th century, the 19th century, the 20th century early and late and in the present.  See what the uniforms look like for each country.  You can do this with several other aspects of life as well, such as clothing, in general, or food, etc.  The affluent people from various cultures around the world starting in the 12th century to the present should confirm what I get at.   It will not be the ‘same’ in every case.  But there is certainly a pattern.  And do we excuse this as ‘evolution’ and ‘progress?’  Shall we now have to look at who used these terms ‘evolution’ and ‘progress’ and address and analyze for ‘what purpose’ these terms were used and how they were used to subjugate and annihilate?

So I disagree with the tone and assumption that Chimamanda Adichie brings in speaking to the issue of single versus multiple stories.  I like how she approaches the subject and explains it.  I do not agree with her notions of making sameness and similarity a criteria for harmony or a reason to let alone and not molest or control.  Isn’t that the reason colonization was justified in the first place?  Why genocide is justified from its beginnings in massacres and to the present day?  Is our understanding a criteria for killing and maiming, manipulating and giving permission to change the other?  However, I do not condone unethical behaviors and traditions so do not say I condone things like female circumcision and other such things.  However, I do not believe that not understanding someone or some culture group or tradition or history, means that we must.   In order to do this, we must co-opt ‘the other’ into our own understanding.  There are differences.  Why are we so afraid of non-difference (irreconcilable differences that is further than what we think about as ‘different’)?  It speaks more about us than of the other.

So this wonderful talk with fantastic, lucid points about history, education, power, and relations, is as is everything, multiple.  I only take issue with the will to incorporate other into an understanding that allows us to be at peace with difference.  In that instant, we are even further apart and alienated.  And in our present climate, this would give a legitimate go-ahead for a take-over and a make-over; violence as some normal activity.  It is a something we need to de-colonize in our thinking.

In relation to the subject matter and analyzing content while appreciating, we must also look at where this video rests.  It rests in the TED site.  If one has so much money behind it, so much corporate connection, then we must also think of it as towing mainstream thoughts in some ways, perhaps in subtle ways in more of the radical thinking.  Let us not be mistaken, this is not a radical change site.  It gives comfortable, informative, interesting, and safe thoughts.  For instance, for as much great things Al Gore has done in warning the public about Global warming, he does not touch his constituency, his ‘group’ and friends, who have been the ones to engineer the human quotient and engines to the destruction of our ecology.  Until he himself becomes radicalized, he keeps himself and our elites and our patriotisms comfortable, continuing the invisible domination by elitism and privilege without a shift in thinking.

And with all this, I highly recommend this wonderful talk that pushes mainstream thought to the edges of history, colonization of the mind, forgetting, education, nation-state and cultural/historical difference.  Critique is not about excluding and putting down, it is about analyzing its various positions, approaches, assumptions, possibilities reached for freedom and creativity, aspects that need further investigation, etc.  Enjoy, think, appreciate, change!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie website:  http://www.l3.ulg.ac.be/adichie/

TED (technology-education-design): Remarkable Talks site: http://www.ted.com/

Impunity and the Fabric of Society: commentary

This is a commentary for the previous post – on the 108 Judo class deaths in Japan.

Kobayashi Yasuhiko skipped his judo class at a junior high school in Yokohama Japan.  Later that day, he was pronounced dead.  According to the way this plays out in the courts, as well as in Japanese popular society, it is ‘an accident.’   What happens to people when they are not persons with lives and histories, but are a part of a large society, culture, nation and are nothing but statistics?  It favors refusing to take care.  It favors ignoring.  It favors ‘life as usual’ for most of us.  In this way, as our so-called ‘free’ societies such as the US, Japan, most Western European countries, Turkey, South Korea, and all those so-called ‘democratic’ and almosts, create an illusion of freedom as bestowed upon us by a kind and benevolent, well-intentioned society.

What happened to Kobayashi Yasukhiko was that the judo teacher had to punish him for being undisciplined, for missing a practice.  So when the student arrived at the school, the judo teacher demanded a match with his ranking judo superior and champion in a punishing and grueling match.  He was choked by that champion to the floor, then choked again by the teacher while they grappled him and threw him violently onto the floor.  The boy experienced severe internal bleeding (subdural hematoma) and died.  This is an ‘accident’ in Japanese society.

Now there is an association in Japan called ‘Japan Judo Accident Victims Association.’ http://judojiko.net/eng/

Do we not find this perverse? I am not questioning the group itself, it is needed.  What I question is the violence of a dominant society that makes the forming of this group necessary.  In all countries, this is a problem: the state’s refusal to take care of its subjects.  In this sense, the violence is a monopoly of the state and it can ignore citizens if it needs to protect itself.  The state, being an imaginative outline on a map with its police, prisons, military, and industries and institutions, imagines itself as having to protect itself.  The people who work for the state, imagine themselves to BE the state! Imagine this!  So victims of legitimized violence must suffer enough to found an association so that their voice can be taken seriously by the state.  What harm does the state see it taking in when a group of parents say that there is a strange legitimizing of violent and abusive behaviors that pass for normal and okay in society?

The problem starts with the silencing of ‘being killed’ and the replacement with the term ‘dying’ (assumes non-intention by a person or group and blame is placed on a disease or accident)  or ‘death ( just a statistic somewhere).  People are being killed by active agents that are most often a complex nexus of legitimate events, things, spaces and cultural systems (such as ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘survival of the fittest’).

Silence is a weapon of the rulers.  Silence must be counted upon as a major factor in maintaining a society.  Making something as an individual anomaly, an individual issue, is counted upon and is effective in most of the first world nations today, and others as well.  On the other spectrum in these societies, there is also the parallel motivation to blame everything on the state and the government.  So on the one hand, it is individualized, made an individual case.  On the other hand, it is something that the government and the state must take care of, it’s not our individual fault.  Both of these trajectories, dualistic poles of behavior, are from the issue of individuals in increasingly individualizing societies, that disempower by disengaging.  The self has tremendous pressure and the only thing it knows is that it is under a system, but at other times it is never that system (ignoring).

In another instance, Japan was at the center of an international controversy surrounding increasing numbers of people dieing while at work.  This phenomena, called:  karōshi 過労死  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karōshi ) became almost an embarassment for the Japanese, once internationalized.  At the beginning, when the first few had died, the Japanese government used the excuse that if this were a workplace problem, then all people who are over-worked while working, should be dying.  But since they are not, it is not the workplace or the government who is responsible, but this is specific to those individuals.  On these grounds, there was no compensation.  What the hell??  But doesn’t this sound familiar?  As the state and corporations run most of our lives anyway, when convenient, they have the lawyers and thinkers to have logical defenses such as those, to make individual lives suddenly not their responsibility.  Individual differences in increasingly individualizing societies, are individually more free to roam around and make personal choices and have personal opinions, but the body, the health, the worldviews and the movement of the body in certain ways here and there, and in this way (think of brushing teeth every morning, then jogging, then eating breakfast, then going to work, then stopping for a drink after work, then going home and seeing family, then watching television, then waiting for the weekend–over and over again and over again)  seals our bodies in certain ways and repetitions.  Mechanized lives that we don’t recognize as mechanized, routine-ized.   For the wealthy, they rarely follow these routines so they are totally unconcerned about the bulk of the people in their own societies.  There is NO RECIPROCAL relationship in individual societies.  Each of us do what we do.  So in BEING KILLED, we just call it one person’s death in this way, or he or she or that dies in this way.  Oh how unfortunate.

Well, unfortunately for Japan, at least, more and more people are questioning this disconnect between the people working for and caring for certain things but this care NOT BEING RETURNED, not being reciprocated.  I can almost hear some people now reading this—–‘who says it has to be reciprocal?  We are FREE TO LEAVE.’   Such is how individual freedom goes.  Leaving something we need, or leaving something we love, or feel connected to is Painful, and perhaps life-killing.  But we rarely acknowledge this.  Increasingly, especially in the world’s wealthiest nations, all that we are is in our heads and our bodies are just there to carry our heads around.  We stomp on the earth, we pollute, we say whatever, think whatever, other people have their realities, I have my own, what else is there…… etc. etc.   To me, this is what the Buddhists call the ‘Age of degeneration.’   The Bible calls ‘The End times”.   Self-hatred is there.  It is not natural but certainly foretold and followed.

Yasuhiko’s story, being killed by his judo teacher; and the Japanese salary-men’s deaths at work, seem to be ‘the way things are.’  They supposedly are not killed by the silent and abusive modern society we live in, by our ignorance.  Even if we understand it, we don’t seem to have any creativity enough to fight it so we may succumb to silently going about our business.  Others find ways to begin subverting, and then changing things for the better.

Corporate and government leaders, and all leaders of anything in society, must be held accountable for how things are.  At the same time, we ourselves, whether leaders or not, must be held accountable for whatever we do to disempower ourselves, or become arrogant in thinking that we do not need guides and teachers in our lives.  We must continue to think and perhaps think better than we do now, in our complex world, to navigate the various mental and emotional games we have all learned to play in the modern world to get by.  That, I feel, is the most challenging aspect of social change.

I pray and work hard for people to begin thinking about what kind of societies we live in and therefore participate in the killing of ourselves and others and the ecology willingly.   And I pray that we become empowered instead of paralyzed by our sadness and rage, to empower ourselves to work differently.  First, we must recognize the difference between ‘being killed’ and ‘dieing.’  Silence by a nexus of gendered notions of toughness and legitimate forms of disciplining, which can allow abuse and hatred and condones it, and how this spreads to all aspects of society in the family , the workplace and leisure and to human relations and nations–must mean that these are not natural but made-up and that these can be changed through equal amounts of work in new directions.

In what various ways and methods does your society, culture, nation, neighborhood, family, participate in the collusion of violence that passes for silence and manhood, ‘bad’ personalities and nature?  In what ways can we begin to seriously look at this issue, bring discussions and come to formulate ways to stop maintaining the fiction of these things as ‘nature’ and inevitable?  In what ways do masculinities become linked with violence as natural?  In what ways does this masculinity, then, become beneficial to strong societies that want to maintain themselves (military strength and the militarization of society)?  In what ways are women and non-males inscribed in an empowerment that is falsely viewed as such but in reality is a patriarchal form of power, a violent-ization of power; and is an intensification of sexism?  How do women internalize patriarchal violence in order to be ‘equal,’ and perpetrating violences? In what ways can all of these things be changed?  How could Yasuhiko still be in judo classes, perhaps performing the sport that he loves, without being killed, then labelled an accident?