Occurances of Humiliation in Japan: High Suicide Rate
When I discuss dignity and humiliation in Japan, one of the following points is usually brought up as having some kind of relevance:
1. the hikikomori phenomenon (ca. one million people, mostly young men, hiding)
2. ijime (bullying)
3. the high suicide rate
4. the depression of Princess Masako
5. work by Bin Kimura (psychopathologie phénoménologique)
Please see further down the link to a text discussing the high suicide rate. I thank Judit Revesz for making me aware of this text.
Japan Suicides Reach Record High
with the kind permission of the BBC.
Occurances of Humiliation in Japan: Ijime, or Bullying
When I discuss dignity and humiliation in Japan, one of the following points is usually brought up as having some kind of relevance:
1. the hikikomori phenomenon (ca. one million people, mostly young men, hiding)
2. ijime (bullying)
3. the high suicide rate
4. the depression of Princess Masako
5. work by Bin Kimura (psychopathologie phénoménologique)
Please see further down a text discussing ijime.
Ijime: A Social Illness of Japan
by Akiko Dogakinai
Bullying is a common problem in every generation and every country. In Japan, it is a fairly serious social phenomenon. Actually, the amount of ijime, which means bullying in Japanese, has been decreasing; however, the bullying is getting much more sinister than before. Five years ago, it was top news for the whole year after Kiyoteru Okochi, a 13-year-old junior high school student, committed suicide to escape from being bullied by his classmates. He left his note that proved and clarified the fact that he was suffering from cruel bullying. He was often forced to soak his face into a dirty river, his bicycle was broken repeatedly and his classmates even demanded that he bring money to them every day. The amount of money that he gave to the bullies reached about ten thousand dollars (Fredman, 1995). This was not the first time that students committed suicide because of bullying. But it was the first time that Japanese media gave a lot of coverage to the matter of ijime. After that, bullying became one of the most serious subjects in Japan. People wondered why his classmates had bullied him and why he was bullied. There are many possible answers, but none of the causes is simple.
First, we have to think about the traits of Japanese society. It is well-known that Japanese society is homogeneous. People tend to consider that being similar to each other is a virtue and gives a sense of relief or safety. People are afraid of being different from others. They do not want to feel alienated. They attempt to be like one another; otherwise, they will be considered deviants (Sakamaki, 1996). People will try to eliminate people who are different from them to protect themselves. In individualistic nations, like the United States, to be different has significant meaning. People have various thoughts and styles and they show them openly. But in collectivist countries, like Japan, the differences produce hard encounters. The differences might include people who have an exceptional ability, and they will be abused because of jealousy of others. For example, if a student is unusually good at math, the great talent may bring him a bully. He will be a target of ijime. Kiyoteru Okochi, himself, might have had an extraordinary skill.
Japan is also known as an academic, career-based society. As people care about their academic abilities, they study quite hard. It is usual that children go to a cram school after regular school. To get a good job, they are required to go to a high quality university. It is difficult to enter a university in Japan; therefore, it is almost a duty to study hard to go on to college. As they are so busy studying, they cut their time to relax or play (Fredman, 1995). This means that people have no chance to release their tension and stress. And this also indicates that children lose an opportunity to communicate and make friends. As they lose a chance to get social skills, they never know how to get along with friends and they are solitary (Sakamaki, 1996). It is possible that such stress or loneliness become a cause of bullying.
There is one more point that we should consider about the society of Japan. In recent years, the number of mothers who work outside the home has been increasing. They may be too busy and stressed to play or talk with their children. Children may be dissatisfied in such an environment. Children need plenty of affection from their parents, and a lack of love from them also can be a factor in bullying.
In contrast to working mothers, there is an another feasible motivation of bullying in the home. It is well-known in Japan that being given too much affection is a dangerous trigger. Because of love for their children, some parents do everything for them. They finish doing things before asking what their children want to do. They ignore their children's need for responsibility. They deprive their children's right of free choice and to experience new things. As a result, the children just know to follow alongthe circumstance that they are given and they may easily become involved in ijime.
Next, we need to think about the system of Japanese school, too. School and teachers try to apply strict rules to students. Children are supposed to conform to the rules (Sakamaki, 1996). This conformity is connected to the homogeneous society. For people in Japan, to break the order seems risky. That may be natural if we consider that feature, but the rules are sometimes too excessive. For instance, students are not allowed to grow their hair long. Children's curiosity is suppressed, and they must feel frustration from these regulations and this may cause bullying.
Now, we must not forget that bullying is formed with a bully and a victim. When a bully and a victim meet accidentally, ijime can be the result. Not just a motivation of one side creates a chance of bullying. Each child who is involved in bullying has a psychological condition, which makes him or her amenable to bullying. It may be brought about by social, home or school system.
Every aspect of Japanese society can cause ijime. Therefore, it is definitely impossible to eliminate bullying. It is as difficult as to change the society itself, but it is possible to reduce the number of ijime incidents. We cannot help hoping to see a society where less ijime happens and children play more actively and freely.
Fredman, Lauren. (1995, March). Bullied to death in japan (teenagers' suicides). World Press Review, 42, 25. AvailableInfoTrak SearchBank / A16812378 [Reprinted December 26,1994]
Sakamaki, Sachiko. (1996, February). Fates worse than death. Far Eastern Economic Review, 159, 38-40.
Occurances of Humiliation in Japan: Depression in the Emperial Household
When I discuss dignity and humiliation in Japan, one of the following points is usually brought up as having some kind of relevance:
1. the hikikomori phenomenon (ca. one million people, mostly young men, hiding)
2. ijime (bullying)
3. the high suicide rate
4. the depression of Princess Masako
5. work by Bin Kimura (psychopathologie phénoménologique)
Please see further down a text discussing Princess Masako.
This article is produced by Inter Press Service IPS (www.ipsnews.net). I spotted the text in Asia Times, however Asia Times is a client of IPS that used the story, but the story is not theirs. I thank Joanna Son, IPS, for her kind explanations.
TOKYO - Media reports suggesting that Japan's Crown Princess Masako is suffering from severe depression - linked to heavy pressure on her to produce a son and heir - has revived a debate over the idea of allowing an empress to occupy the 2,000-year-old Chrysanthemum Throne.
Masako and her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, have a two-year-old daughter, Aiko.
Japan's constitution permits only sons to inherit the throne, the world's oldest unbroken hereditary monarchy. The emperor is considered a symbol of Japanese culture and a Shinto deity, a religion that has no female priests.
But public sentiment appears to be shifting away from tradition. Surveys indicate that more than 70 percent of the public say they would be happy if Masako's daughter were to take over the monarchy since she is the first and still the only child of the crown prince.
"The public would welcome the reign of an empress. But in reality, given the objection of powerful conservatives to accepting women into important positions, a change is going to be difficult," explains Yuko Kawanishi, who teaches sociology at Tokyo Gakugei University.
"The crown prince, 44, and the princess, 40, have no son, but a daughter. Naturally, the possibility of their child becoming empress is being discussed among politicians and constitutional law specialists," said the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest-circulating daily newspaper.
While historical documents show that empresses did rule several centuries ago, Japan's Meiji Constitution speaks of the country being ruled by a line of emperors "unbroken for ages eternal". Article Three of the current constitution, which replaced the Meiji charter, states that only males can take over the Chrysanthemum Throne.
Emperor Hirohito ruled Japan before and during World War II as a living god, commanding a fiercely loyal military and public until Japan's defeat in 1945.
Gender equality disturbs conservatives
Against this backdrop, changing the law to allow an empress to reign - and given the alteration of notions of gender equality this would bring - is deeply disturbing to Japan's influential rightists.
The conservative Shukan Bunshun, a leading weekly news magazine, quoted imperial household watchers as saying a law to usher in female accession to the throne would be too complicated and would pose a risk to the continuation of the monarchy.
"When an empress has to marry, the choice of a husband becomes too delicate a problem. As a male, his influence on the imperial line can be too powerful and thus pose a challenge to the hereditary importance of the lineage," the magazine quotes an unnamed source as saying.
The article says this is an important consideration in the debate on changing the current law.
But this contrasts with support for an empress in Japan's increasingly westernized society, one in which more women are now delaying marriage and choosing to not have children.
Aiko was born to Masako Owada, a former career diplomat, after more than eight years of married life and some infertility treatment.
Pressure to produce a son intensified this past year as Princess Masako approached her 40th birthday, leading to her depression and apparent nervous breakdown, according to news reports.
She is now reported to be "resting", according to the imperial agency, which supervises and reports on the imperial household. The media have published photos of a villa in Karuizawa, a mountain resort, where she is living in seclusion with her mother and daughter.
The problem surfaced earlier in May, when her husband crossed the lines of traditional restraint in Japan, making the shocking revelation during a press conference that his wife is "exhausted by trying to adapt to life in the imperial family since their marriage".
Crown Prince Naruhito spoke - media reports called it a "public outburst" - on the eve of his departure, alone, to Europe where he attended the wedding of the crown princes of Denmark and Spain.
Prince lashes out at royal household
He also accused the imperial agency of "denying Masako's career and her character".
The remarks caused a stir in Japan, forcing the stubborn and powerful imperial agency to quickly announce it would "take more care to do its best for the princess".
But on Friday the agency announced, in yet another sign of its powerful control over the imperial family, that it has not scheduled a press conference for the prince, who returned from Europe on May 25. He would be expected to be questioned about his wife's condition and his views about imperial household pressures and an heir.
Still, Prince Naruhito's rare expression of displeasure has touched off a storm of new media reports that has continued for weeks. News magazines have been portraying the lives of the Japanese Imperial Family as being extremely lonely, with very little social interaction with friends.
"The royal family is nurtured by the imperial agency to be a symbol of Japan's past. This is why female members of the Japanese monarchy must always be attentive to their husbands and walk behind them," says sociologist Kawanishi of Tokyo Gakugei University.
These customs dictate the life of Masako, who spent her childhood abroad, speaks six languages and graduated from Harvard University.
For example, while Prince Naruhito said his wife considered her role as that of being a diplomat for the monarchy, in reality the imperial agency curtailed her dreams by putting priority on producing a male heir - and barring her from traveling overseas for some time.
"If Masako thought her role was to be diplomat, then that is a mistake. As crown princess, her duty is family," commented the conservative Shukan Bunshun.
Gregory Clark, head of Tama University, says the latest reports on Princess Masako reflect a "serious development in Japanese society".
"The situation represents a clash between the younger crown prince and the conservative imperial agency. Both the crown prince and his wife, Masako, would like to see their daughter become empress and with the public behind them, the conservatives could be beaten," he says.
(Inter Press Service)
The Remains of the Day: A Bridge between Japanese and Western Culture
As you know, I currently try to learn about Japanese culture. I attempt to get a feeling, particularly, for the sense of duty that seems to permeate Japanese culture.
I currently begin to understand and appreciate the advantages of this sense of duty (a society where services work much better than I have experienced elsewhere), and its disadvantages (lack of individual judgement).
Kazuo Ishiguro (1954-) has written a novel, The Remains of the Day (1989), that has been turned into a very impressive film (1993) with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.
Greg O'Dea (UC Foundation Associate Professor of English, Director, University Honors Program, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN USA) was so kind as to explain the following: "Kazuo Ishiguro is the son of Japanese immigrants to the UK. He was born in Nagasaki, but at age five moved with his parents to England, where he grew up, was educated, and still lives. He is a British citizen, and English is his language."
In this novel/film the dilemma of duty is highlighted in the most subtle and touching ways. More importantly perhaps, the fact that the novel is written by a Japanese writer and set in England opens a door for cross-cultural understanding. It becomes clear that a particularly high sense of duty is not a Japanese cultural trait, but a possible choice every human being may take, including the price to be paid for this choice. Viewing the film is like receiving a nuanced introduction in both Japanese culture as well as into the human condition that allows for, as one might formulate it, choosing oneself "away." Or, for humbleness that goes too far and turns into some kind of voluntary self-humiliation, a humiliation of the human capacity for judgment.
The Remains of the Day was selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best books of 1989 and won the prestigious Booker Prize in England.
Kazuo Ishiguro says about himself:
'I am a writer who wishes to write international novels. What is an 'international' novel? I believe it to be one, quite simply, that contains a vision of life that is of importance to people of varied backgrounds around the world. It may concern characters who jet across continents, but may just as easily be set firmly in one small locality.'
Taken from http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=auth52
The Remains of the Day (1989), Kazuo Ishiguro
What history is to a nation, memory is to the individual. Both serve to locate us, to tell us who we are by reminding us of what we have been and done. And both, as Kazuo Ishiguro suggests, are open to selection, repression and revision.
The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro's third novel, examines the intersections of individual memory and national history through the mind of Stevens, a model English butler who believes that he has served humanity by devoting his life to the service of a "great" man, Lord Darlington. The time is 1956; Darlington has died, and Darlington Hall has been let by an American businessman. As Stevens begins a solitary motor trip to the west country, traveling farther and farther from familiar surroundings, he also embarks on a harrowing journey through his own memory. What he discovers there causes him to question not only Lord Darlington's greatness, but also the meaning of his own insular life.
The journey motif is a deceptively simple structural device; the farther Stevens travels from Darlington Hall, it seems, the closer he comes to understanding his life there. But in Stevens's travel journal Ishiguro shapes an ironic, elliptical narrative that reveals far more to the reader than it does to Stevens. The butler believes, for instance, that he makes his trip for "professional" reasons, to persuade a former housekeeper, Miss Kenton, to return to Darlington Hall. But through deftly managed flashbacks and Stevens's naive admissions, the reader sees instead that the matter is highly personal: Stevens had loved Miss Kenton but let her marry another man; he now wishes to make up for lost time, to correct the mistakes of his past.
More important than that veiled love story--but intimately connected with it--is the matter of Lord Darlington, and the degree to which Stevens's sense of self is founded upon his belief in Darlington's greatness. It becomes clear enough to the reader, though Stevens is long in admitting it to himself, that Darlington had been a political pawn of fascism and the Nazis--unwitting perhaps, misguided no doubt, but hardly the "great man" that Stevens had deceived himself into believing he served. These revelations are made through a delicate and powerful process: as Stevens's journal shifts between travelogue, personal memoir and reflections on his profession, his memory slides continually between Darlington Hall in the ruined, empty present, the height of Darlington's influence (and Stevens's pride) in the 1920s, and the tense, disturbing pre-war 1930s. Carefully elided from consideration, repressed and hidden, are the war years themselves and their immediate aftermath. We know they are there, of course, and we may guess what they meant at Darlington Hall, but Stevens's memorial archaeology leaves that particular tomb unexcavated.
In the end, Stevens must come to some sense of resignation and resolution, both about Darlington and about himself. The source of Stevens's pride is also, after all, potentially the source of his shame. He was willing enough to shine in the light of Darlington's greatness, and now must either share in his disgrace, or--what is perhaps more difficult--admit that his own dedicated and deeply considered "professionalism" has had no real part to play on the stage of world history.
Like all great novels, The Remains of the Day is an organic work, its parts perfectly integrated, every scene imaging the whole. In his carefully controlled prose, so perfectly suited to his narrator, in his effortless movement among several different time settings, in his almost magical evocation of simultaneous humor and pathos, Ishiguro proves himself a masterful artist in full command of his elements. And in this novel, those elements combine to form a profound psychological and cultural portrait that reveals the author's great abiding theme: the art and artifice of memory.
Dr. Gregory O'Dea
UC Foundation Associate Professor of English, UTC
Remains of the Day, The (1993)
Directed by James Ivory
Annual Conference Abstracting Journal for the International Association for Conflict Management (IACM)
ABOUT IACM 2004 17TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
The purpose is to provide a data warehouse for all abstracts and
papers presented at the conference and to facilitate their
distribution to the negotiations profession as a whole. Abstracts of
the papers will also be published in subject-specific journals within
the Negotiations Research Network and, where appropriate, in the
journals of our sister networks.
Max H. Bazerman
Director, Negotiations Research Network
How New Movements Evolve, by the Italian Sociologist Francesco Alberoni
I thank Brigite Pages for making me aware of the work of Italian sociologist Francesco Alberoni. His analysis of how new movements evolve is relevant and interesting for our group, I believe. I appreciate, not least, that his views are embedded in a tradition of European thinking and might fertilize the presently dominating American discourse.
PS: The word Metanoia is used in the text further down. I found the following explanation in Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, © 2003: "spiritual conversion or awakening; fundamental change of character"
Part III The Metanoia Concept
This analysis is written by the Portuguese Researcher Artur Silva and was first distributed as a series of posts to the Lo-list. Artur gave us his permission to reproduce the text and can be contacted at email@example.com. He welcomes comments!
III.1.2 Alberoni's Perspectives on Metanoia
For me, the Italian sociologist Alberoni is the main reference in what
concerns the concept of Metanoia. Not because he has studied explicitly
that concept, but because he studied the kind of phenomena where metanoia
frequently takes place. So the word is recurrent in his studies.
The "birth stage" of movements
Like many sociologists, namely Durkheim and Max Weber, Alberoni has
studied civilizations and especially the birth and growth of
civilizations. But, contrarily to other sociologists, he was not so much
interested about the ideology of each civilization, or the way
civilization institutions work, but about a special kind of social
phenomenon that is, in his opinion, at the origin of all civilization
Alberoni is specially interested in studying "social movements", some of
which have profoundly changed social institutions and the flow of
civilization. This includes religious, political and cultural movements.
On the religious side, one can include the birth of Christianity (the
movement of the first Christians), the birth of Islam or Buddhism, but
also the Reformation. On the political side, the French Revolution, the
American Revolution, or the Russian Communist Revolution. On the cultural
side, for instance, the Enlightenment Period (known in French and in the
Latin languages, very correctly, as the "Renaissance" a "Rebirth" or
"Revival" civilization period). But one can also think about other more
narrow social movements, like the hippie's movement, or the feminist
movement, which influenced some parts of society. By definition, all
movements are collective -- they concern "social groups". And, as we shall
see, the minimum dimension of a group is two...
Alberoni has studied many types of movements, and how they were born and
evolved some have extinguished themselves, some have originated new
institutions and influenced civilization. But within social movements he
has been particularly interested in what he calls the "birth stage" or
"birth phase" (or "beginning stage" or phase) of those movements -- that
initial phase where the enthusiasm is great, people adhere "en masse" to
the movement, and the personal experience of changing paradigm, of really
being "reborn" (hence, "metanoia") is maximum.
Alberoni's interest in the "birth stage" of movements began very early
with his study of the same tittle ("Stadio Nascente") in 1968. But his
major study is in his book "Genesi" (GEN) from 1989 , a very detailed and
rich picture of movements and institutions through history, especially in
the Occident. "Genesi" is plural and means "origins", "beginnings" or
"genesis", but here it doesn't refer, as in the Bible, to the beginning of
the Universe, but to the movements that have been in the beginning
(genesis) of all civilizations.
A note I must make immediately is that I have read Alberoni's books either
in Italian or in Portuguese translations, both languages having similar
structures. I never read Alberoni in English so I will have to try to
translate the concepts from Italian or Portuguese to English. I have not
the time right now to obtain and check my translation with an "approved"
English translation. But I strongly recommend you get a copy of "Genesis",
because it is really interesting -- and then you can check my
translation... A second note: I don't know how many of you have been part
of a social movement in its initial phase. I have been lucky enough to
take part in two such movements. And reading "Genesi" I often said to
myself: "yes, I saw that" or even "I have lived that". I think that those
of with similar experiences will feel the same. The majority of my
quotations will be from "Genesi". But I will begin with a different book
In his reflection about the "birth stage" of social movements, Alberoni
came to understand with the same frame of reference (the same "paradigm")
many different phenomena that others don't see the same way.
"Innamoramento e Amore"
In a short (aprox. 150 pages) and very interesting essay he applies the
same framework to the birth/ beginning phase of... love. The tittle of the
book is "Innamoramanto e Amore". "Amore" is "love" and "innamoramanto" can
be translated as "the process by which one gets in love". Even if the
tittle of the American translation (I just saw in Amazon) is "Falling in
Love", I am not sure if that is a good translation of the title, as
"innamoramanto" presupposes a process and a phase, not only the moment
where one "falls"... Indeed, I wonder if the "falling" analogy doesn't
make it difficult to understand the phenomena as it passes through stages
of doubt, of "asking for evidence", etc. In his "Essay on Love", Sthendal
used the analogy of "crystallization", but prudently described a "first
crystallization" ("maybe she has some qualities") followed by a period of
doubt ("I wonder if she loves me?") and ("If yes") followed by a "second
crystallization" (YES, she has ALL qualities!") in that moment one has
"fallen", I suspect. "Innamoramanto" is everything that happens between
the moment one gets to notice someone and the moment one "falls" in love.
The reason I am beginning with this book is that for someone that has not
been part of the initial phase of a social movement the "innamoramanto"
analogy may be helpful... But I think that some of you are asking "but how
can someone see an analogy between such different phenomena?" Alberoni
answers this question immediately in the first sentence of his book.
"What is *innamoramanto*?" he asks "It is the birth phase of a collective
movement of two. This definition could be given in the end of a detailed
analysis of facts and interpretations, but I have preferred to give it in
the beginning, so that it can be used as a guide."
After that he quotes Durkheim in relation with the "collective
effervescence" of social movements. "Man (I apologize to all women, but I
am just translating...) has the impression of being dominated by forces
that he doesn't recognize as his own, that dominate him. He feels
transported to a different world from the one where his quotidian life
takes place. Life there is not only different, it is qualitatively
different. He forgets himself and gives himself entirely to the common
He also quotes Max Weber (Max Weber, by the way, talks about the
"charismatic leader", but Alberoni says that what is "charismatic" is the
collective movement, the leader being someone that only "interprets" and
"crystallizes" the common aspirations): 'Max Weber in his study of
phenomena where creativity, enthusiasm and faith happen in a profound
way... (periods where people) "cut with tradition" (talks about those
periods, or about their leaders as) "conducting people to an heroic
adventure, producing... an experience of interior rebirth, a "metanoia" in
the sense of St. Paul.'
(The above quotation is from "Innamoramanto e Amore". St. Paul is quoted
15 times in "Genesi", many of which in relation with metanoia or
particulars of that experience).
The word I have translated as "rebirth" is "renascimento" (like the French
word "renaissance"). When applied to a person it means rebirth. As I have
already referred, the same word applied to society and capitalized is the
Latin word for the "Enlightenment Period". I find interesting that the
same word is used to characterize a personal "interior rebirth" and the
social movement of the Enlightenment Period -- indeed a "rebirth" period
of Humanity, a collective metanoia. The "Renaissance" implied an important
paradigm shift from the medieval, theological oriented world view to the
positivist rationality all things can be understood like machines, one has
to divide the whole in parts, understand each part and the relationship
among parts and then one will understand the whole and be able to modify
it. Let me call this the "Cartesian Systems Thinking". If it is true that
we are in the transition to a New Age, a paradigm shift, a "New
Renaissance" (a "New Enlightenment Period") is now strongly needed, I
think. That shift will not be fulfilled through the replacement of a
mechanist view by a systems view that still accepts the other "constructs"
of the Positivist Rationality. The profound civilization change we are
terribly in need of, will, I believe, imply a "social movement", a
collective metanoia that will have many dimensions. In what concerns the
cognitive dimension the replacement of the positivist "world view" by a
perspective that recognizes emergences, wholes and profound change is the
direction to follow. But that civilization renaissance will also mean, in
my opinion, a profound change of values, a new ethic, as well as a
profound emotional movement. That is the reason why I believe that
reflecting on the birth stages of civilization movements is now of a great
importance, both to our organizations and to society as a whole. But
before that let me conclude the summary of "Innamoramento"...
Alberoni describes the "birth phase" of love with the word metanoia as he
claims that through "innamoramento" one is changed so profoundly as if one
had been rebirth. The explanation of how that happens is really
Suppose that someone tells me something that contradicts my own experience
or beliefs, something I can't assimilate within my current "mental model".
I can always "deny" or not pay attention to what the other tells me maybe
he is lying, maybe he is wrong, maybe he has incorrectly interpreted the
events. Why shall I give to someone's words the same or even more
credibility than I give to myself? I see the world through my mental
models -- I don't recognize (I don't see) what is incompatible with them.
Someone external could eventually think that I refuse to think about what
the other tells me; but he would be wrong indeed, sometimes I am not even
able to "see" what the other tells me.
A quotation from Piaget that is more interesting in French due to the fact
that the same word means "data" and "given": "Les donnees ne nous sont pas
donnees; elles sont construites par les theories qui nous permetent de les
Translation: "Data (the "givens") is never given to us it is
constructed by the theories that allow us to see it".
But now suppose that I am in the process of "innamoramanto". I am creating
with someone a collective group of two (at least, for sometime, eventually
for life). I can't "deny" what she is saying, unless I want to deny
herself, but that would mean to "deny" the "group of two" under
construction, to deny myself and to stop the "innamoramanto" process. So I
will have to listen, I will have to try to understand. Maybe I don't
agree; but at least I have to consider what I have heard as a "plausible"
point of view in the maximum I will "convert" to the position she
expressed ("that's true, why haven't I been able to see that before?"); in
the minimum I will conserve my position but accept her's as an equally
valid one. In other terms, in the special case of "innamoramento" I can't
discuss, or deny as if I was talking with a stranger I have to "dialogue"
(my words, not Alberoni's). And I am not talking here of "simulated
dialogue" as we all frequently do in the workplace (or in lists) when we
don't argue in an effort to be "polite", but knowing very well that we
don't agree. I am talking of really "suspending judgement" and considering
that "the other may be true let me listen carefully..." But after that, if
I still don't agree, then I will have to express clearly my position and
hope she will understand it. We have to reach a real agreement -- or to
stop the "innamoramento" process...
On the other hand, during the "innamoramanto" phase, lovers-to-be describe
to each other their previous lives and experiences and they will jointly
reinterpret both histories. If I am considering leaving my previous family
and create a new partnership, I have to know everything about her, and
have my history (or a reinterpretation of it) told and accepted. I will
have to ask, to inquire, to ultimately give and receive a global YES (or
NO). I can't unilaterally protect myself (or her) I have to express my
feelings, and accept hers. We will both win or both loose -- no one can
Really, if this "Innamoramanto" is going to become "love" I know I will
change and, maybe for the first time in life, I want to change. The
different other is not someone I can deny we have to learn together... (I
would prefer to use the French verb "apprendre" that means to learn but
also to teach...)
More, I can't lie. I can't put myself in a position where if I win (lose), she will lose (win). I have to fight for a win-win situation. I can't
make any "attributions" about her behavior, that I will not immediately
try to test. If I attribute to her some negative ideas I will have to ask,
to inquire, until I obtain a clear answer. I will have to test any
attributions. I can't unilaterally protect myself or her. I have to
express my feelings, and accept her feelings. We have to create a new
common "world view" where both will change.
As a conclusion: in our life, the process (or processes) of
"innamoramanto" is a process of change, of paradigm shift, of
transformation of "world views", of profound (double-loop) learning, of
metanoia. I think that the majority of you can identify yourselves, in a
certain moment(s) of your life, with this description.
Please note: the previous point is not a direct quotation; I have
respected Alberoni's thoughts, but I have used some words that Alberoni
has not used (but I thing he could have used...), like "dialogue" and
"assumptions". These small changes will be useful later to relate
Alberoni's perspectives with Argyris and Schon's Model I/II (Part IV).
To finish the references to "Innamoramanto" (and create the bridge to
"Genesi"), let me repeat that Alberoni makes a clear distinction between
what happens during "innamoramanto" (the movement or birth phase) and what
happens after the two parts have "fallen in love" and recognized it (the
"love" or institutional phase). Eventually, they will become partners, and
they will no longer be in the birth stage but in the institutional one.
The love phase will eventually be good. But the initial "energy", passion
and enthusiasm for learning and transformation can't be sustained forever.
Genesis of social movements
More generally, in "Genesi", Alberoni discusses many types of movements,
or "birth phases" and the corresponding institutions they have created --
religious, political and social movements are discussed. And always the
birth phase has the properties of a "metanoia", where people feel reborn,
and the institutions created have a "stable", "continuous" orientation --
power games will be played again, people can again stay at "arms length"
of each other. "Normal life" has regained its normal course.
In Alberoni's own words:
'Observing many different phenomena (of beginning of social movements
before they transformed in institutions) I came to the conclusion that the
most original characteristic, and the more specific, that is present in
all of them is something that happens in the mind of the individuals -- an
experience, a way of seeing the world and relating to others, that I have
called the "birth stage". When they live that experience individuals tend
to create very intense solidarity fields and they show a capacity for
renewal, for risk, for proselytism extraordinarily greater than in
'The process that generates the movement, the birth phase, happens at the
individual level, but is simultaneously an individual and collective
'This book discusses phenomena that goes from the experience of an
isolated individual to the creation of a church, a nation or a big
ideology. All those processes that have in common a sudden and explosive
beginning, in which the individuals suffer an internal mutation and behave
in a way that is not the one they used to behave in quotidian life. They
cut with the past and begin a new way (of life) to fulfill an
extraordinary objective, the dream of a happier world, of humanity being
again in peace with itself and the cosmos'.
'It's an error to think that social movement are created by leaders that
obtain followers. It's the small group that is created when 2 or 3 people
in the "birth phase" encounter, meet, recognize themselves and begin to
prepare a common action'.
'Big movements only appear when, in the social system, new economical,
social or cultural conditions have grown up and originated many
simultaneous individual "birth phases"'.
'The birth phase (stage) is not a state of mind that the subject obtains
with adequate practice. It's a subversion, a volt-face, a new way of
seeing the world and oneself -- as it happens in religious conversion or
in scientific discovery'.
'The movement begins with a discovery, a revelation, a new perspective
'The movement is the historical process that goes from the birth phase to
the institution and ends when the institution is consolidated and able to
reproduce itself and the quotidian life'.
'The birth stage is an exploration of the function of what is possible, to
maximize what, from experience and solidarity, is possible in a certain
'At an individual level, the birth stage is a conversion, an interior
change, a metanoia, sudden and profound renewal of the way of being and
thinking of someone, following the discovery of revelation that can be
religious, philosophical, artistic, political of even emotional, as in
love. The individual can change slowly through learning or personal
mastery, but the great changes present themselves under the form of
crisis, discontinuity, real (processes of) death-reborn!" (Please note
that except the words between (...) which I have added for better
understanding, all the others are Alberoni's).
"(the birth stage) is the discovery that our previous life was wrong, that
the world is different from what we thought before and it can be
changed... It's not a consequence of reasoning -- It's an emotional and
intuitive process, but not fool or absurd..."
"In every case the beginning of the birth stage requires an extremely
complex set of pre-conditions very difficult to control... It happens as a
consequence of situations that no one previously programmed, in such a way
that, in the majority of the cases, it surprises the organizations and
even the religious or political agitators".
My comments: Alberoni never refers to the chaos theory but his description
is clearly close to the chaos theory and to the self-organization of
complex open systems. Even if he doesn't refer that explicitly, I think he
analyzes the social movements as if they were living beings, that have a
birth, grow up and eventually dye (when they institutionalize). On the
contrary, he explicitly refers Kuhn and says that scientific revolutions
are a particular case of metanoia and birth stage of movement within a
particular scientific community and normal science is an "institution".
The conclusion is that a movement can't be artificially created through
the learning of any disciplines, neither through the external creation of
conditions. But it can be discovered when it happens to arrive and
eventually guided (nurtured) through its early phases of development and,
as all learning experiences, the "birth stage" will not normally happen
within closed systems or closed organizations everything that opens the
system, that facilitates contacts with the environment, that enlarges
diversity, will allow for the growing of the different conditions and
perspectives that eventually will facilitate the beginning of a (re)birth
Some other characteristics of the birth stage of movements:
- the birth stage is always a collective phenomena; there are
conditions that influence many individuals but it is the
"encounter" of two or more that allow for the state to appear
in each of them -- the new solidarity of the group is a
fundamental characteristic of movements; in some movements,
people feel reborn and they even change names;
- as new shared models must be created, there are always
discussions, and frequently "public confessions", where people
describe their feeling, share their discoveries, and confess their
sins and are forgiven or helped by the group;
- movements always create within their members the conviction that
a "New World" and a "New Man" are under creation; the "new man"
contradicts the old one -- those people that have not yet "seen the
light". But, if one of those will "see the light" he will be
immediately accepted as a part of the movement, with the same
right to speak his truth as the older members. New comers
frequently introduce new ideas or perspectives to the initial
group, and can even in some rare cases become one of
the leaders of the group (the example Alberoni gave is again
- Any movement creates ethical dilemmas to its members.
To become part of the movement one has to show (to oneself
and to others) that he really is a member of the group. He has
to abandon old ideas and fidelities; "leave everything and
come with me"; "leave your father and mother and join us".
Those dilemmas are normally in the form of double bind:
"leave your father and mother" and simultaneously the
commandment "honor father and mother". For this type of
dilemma each member must find a creative solution. "The new
doesn't always suppress the old, it surpasses it". As these
"ethical dilemmas" will have to be solved through a "new vision",
creativity is a normal characteristic of the birth stage.
- Frequently, even through discussion, the group tends to create
a unanimous view or model about the crucial matters. Against the
(old) institution, the movement is in search for the "truth", and
the "unique truth". This will in some cases conduct to the
exclusion of people that contradicts the most important features
of the new model.
- People in a movement are all brothers and sisters. Even if these
words are not used, there is a profound sense of brotherhood
between the members (later, the institution will try to "simulate"
this characteristic that no longer really exists).
- The movement is out of the quotidian, economic life. All members
are equals and frequently some sort of "communism like" life is
accepted (but not imposed) between members.
I will not summarize the all book (but I recommend it).
Application to the organizational world Introduction to next posts
Alberoni never speaks about organizations (companies or others) but only
about communities and social movements and institutions. And, of course,
he never speaks about learning organizations. He was not even interested
in learning, but only in change but we have already understood that
learning and change are closely related. Maybe learning and change are
only different names for the same phenomenon, as in the tale of different
blind people touching different parts of an elephant.
In the next post, I will try to analyze how Alberoni's concepts of
metanoia can be applied to organizations, and especially to the concept of
the learning organization. I will refer to Authors that have analyzed
organizations using a framework that clearly resonates (at least for
me...) with Alberoni's perspectives, and try to understand the relations
between both concepts.
Having a new perspective on the learning organization is important to try
to understand how the attempts to change ordinary organizations into
learning organizations have a low rate level. But it is not enough, I am
afraid. We will have to see if there are specific inhibitors of individual
and organizational double loop learning and metanoia, and what has been
tried to enhance metanoiaic states in organizations. Even if I don't claim
to have a complete solution to that, I will try to analyze the subject in
Francesco Alberoni, "Innamoramento e Amore", 1979 (Portuguese
Edition, "Enamoramento e Amor", 1992, Bertrand Editora, 167 pages)
Francesco Alberoni, "Genesi", 1989 (Portuguese Edition, "Genese",
1990, Bertrand Editora, 591 pages)
Francesco Alberoni, "Estados Nascentes", 1968.
Message from the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
May I share with you a nice cultural experience. On July 14, 2004, after placing a coin, I picked a "message from the Emperor / Empress," at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.
The piece of paper that I received entailed the following personal message:
Never turn aside from the road that your convictions tell you to follow, whatever obstacles you must surmount on the way. Be true to yourself.
The piece of paper entailed also a poem by Empress Shoken:
Cut, if need be, through thick briars,
Knots and brambles, tangled thorns,
For the path that's yours to follow
Must be trodden to the end.
(Shigeritaru ubara karatachi haraitemo
Fumubaki michi wa yukubekari keri)
The paper commented this poem as follows:
This poem was composed, in the traditional 31-syllable form, by either the Emperor Meiji or the Empress Shoken. It is hoped that the poem's message will have particular meaning for you.
The paper explained, furthermore, the poetry of the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken:
The Emperor Meiji was especially fond of composing poems in the traditional waka (31-syllable) form, and left a collection of 100,00 of them to his people. The Empress Shoken joined the Emperor in this art, and is said to have composed 30,000 herself. Many of these Imperial poems, such as the present one, express explicit or implicit ethical admonitions in the Shinto tradition.
Révész Exhibition in Tokyo
As I shared with you earlier, Judit's family (see Judit on our Core Team) are in Tokyo at present, where Tamas Révész, Judit's father, shows his brilliant photos of New York until August 5, 2004. I attended the opening ceremony on July 22, which was interesting, not least because particularly Hungary was grappling with a glimpse of "national humilition." Tamas Révész won the Pulitzer Prize while still living in Hungary, however, subsequently, he left Hungary to live in New York.
Iconic photo exhibits says 'I love NYC'
The Asahi Shimbun, Number 18203, Friday, July 23, 2004, page 21
"New York," an exhibition of about 60 black and white photos of the American metropolis by prize-winning Hungarian photographer Tamas Revesz, opened Thursday night at the UMU gallery in Tokyo's Roppongi district.
The exhibit, sponsored by The Asahi Shimbun and the American and Hungarian embassies, continues until Aug. 5.
Revesz won a Pulitzer Memorial Award for his photo book "Budapest A City Before the Millenium," in 1997, the year he also won a green card through the lottery system that allowed him to live in the United States. He moved to the New York area.
"I wanted to show that New York is not just a jungle of skyscprapers," said Revesz, whose New York photos first appeared in book form in 2000. "I wanted to show that it's a fascinating wonderful place to live. Unfortunately, a year after they came out they became iconic."
The opening of the Tokyo exhibition was attended by dignitaries from both Revesz' homeland and his adopted country, among them Hungarian charge d'affairs Istvan Perosa and U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker.
Both seemed eager to claim teh photographer as their own, with Perosa praising Revesz' vision as purely Hungarian. Baker praised Revesz for the "liberating dynamic of diversity" in his photos.
Profound Experiences of Humiliation and How to Resist: Japanese Actor Akihiro Miwa
Actor Akihiro Miwa
Interview by Mayumi Nakazawa
Tokyo Journal, 06/95, pp. 18-21
(I thank Diane Cornish for making me aware of this text.)
Akihiro Miwa is 60 years old, a chanson singer, an acclaimed stage actor and a public personality whose confidence and charisma has earned him the awe of young fans eager for his advice. He rose from a career as a gay-bar waiter, bartender and pimp to make his debut as a chanson singer in 1952. His autobiography, which was published in 1968 and included a preface by his close friend Yukio Mishima, is in its fourth printing.
Actor Akihiro Miwa
Interview by Mayumi Nakazawa
Tokyo Journal, 06/95, pp. 18-21
A Salmon-pink Jaguar is parked at the entrance of a white Western-style house. From just inside the glazed door, a marble floor stretches all the way to the feet of Akihiro Miwa, who sits regally in an emerald green dress on a sofa covered with pink bore cushions in an enormous living room all done in spectacular Art Deco style. He is holding court.
Miwa is 60 years old, a chanson singer, an acclaimed stage actor and a public personality whose confidence and charisma has earned him the awe of young fans eager for his advice. He rose from a career as a gay-bar waiter, bartender and pimp to make his debut as a chanson singer in 1952. His autobiography, which was published in 1968 and included a preface by his close friend Yukio Mishima, is in its fourth printing.
Miwa has appeared in plays by Shuji Terayama, performed concerts at Paris’ Etoile and was scheduled to act on a Parisian stage this year in Kegawa no Marie, a Terayama play which premiered in 1967 with Miwa in the lead role. The French production has been postponed due to the presidential elections.
His Art Deco surrounding are, at first glance, perfect and expensive. But there is an oddly disturbing hint of kitsch, some flaw that adds character to the reality of both Miwa and his environment. Most often, he talks in a song-like falsetto, with feminine gestures and word use; other times, when he is angry or adamant, his voice switches to a deep and full masculine timbre. His words and his posture are bold just as his life has always been one of outspoken and forthright honesty. He is a man totally at peace with himself.
You were 10 years old and in Nagasaki at the time of the atomic bombing. Did that experience have a very big effect on your life?
Of course it affected me. It was like seeing hell. I lost a lot of my friends and people I knew. I never got keloid scars, but I lost my hair and anemia made me dizzy. I suffered a long time from various side effects. And it changed the way I looked at things. Of course it was big, but for me the biggest experience was my childhood between the ages of one and ten. That’s what made me what I am and the bombing is part of that.
You grew up nears a red-light district of Nagasaki, where your parents ran several businesses.
Yes. They ran a café, a traditional Japanese restaurant and a public bath. Next door was a theater, across the road was a record shop and next to that was an antique art dealer. There were bars and clubs all around this area.
Did growing up there stimulate your interest in music and theater?
Yes, it did. I started going to the theater when I was old enough to be aware of things. I saw movies, concerts, plays. I heard all kinds of music at the record shop. And the antique shop had all kinds of art from all over the world, east and west. I even studied Japanese painting from my elementary school days. I once wanted to become a painter.
It was a very unique environment, wasn’t it?
I saw every kind of person. The maid used to hold me in her arms while she sat at the counter of our bathhouse. I’d see people take off their clothes and what they looked like naked. …
You saw people without the dressing.
Yes. I’d see the very shabby bodies on the rich people after they undressed and I’d see gorgeous bodies on those who would take off the most dreadful clothing. So I know clothing is a total sham. Then, at the café, I’d watch men and women playing love games, fighting, arguing. You see the true nature of people when they drink like authority figures who are actually very uncouth individuals. I saw it all when I was very young and that made me what I am. The bombing came on top of that.
You were saved because you were visiting your grandparents’ house.
Fate is really hard to understand. I could very easily have died that day. After a brush with death like that it is very easy to live as free as you wish. I had known about death. My mother died when I was two, and I often saw destitute prostitutes dying of lung disease. I already had an understanding of the evanescence of life. The bomb just proved it. I started to understand the true meaning of war.
What do you mean?
The word “war” is such a decorative euphemism used to justify mass murder and destruction. We don’t need euphemisms. We shouldn’t call it “World War I,” we should call it “World Mass Murder I.” The word “soldier” should be changed to “murderer,” “military arms” should be called “murder weapons.” Why is it called a murder weapon if it’s used by an individual, but when a country uses it, it’s called “defensive armament.” It is bizarre. And if we don’t refuse to use these euphemisms we’re just part of the plot.
Do you think living through the bomb and the defeat has given you a clearer view?
Yes, because after August 15, the day of the surrender, everything we had been taught up until then suddenly changed. Before, we were required to learn the entire succession line of all the emperors and memorize the Imperial Rescript on Education. If we made one slip, we’d get beaten by the teacher. When we went back to school after the defeat, we were told that everything we had learned previously was wrong; we had to cross things out with ink in our textbooks. When you suddenly see all your values and views change, you start to distrust anything you can’t see, touch or confirm on your own. That’s when I started making my own decisions and not following others.
How do you feel about what’s been going on with the Smithsonian Enola Gay exhibit and Clinton’s refusal to apologize for the bombs?
That’s the national character of America. Westerners find it easy to say “excuse me,” but they find it difficult to say “I’m sorry.”
If they were sorry, then they would be admitting they made a mistake. For them, it’s a natural attitude. But I’m sure a lot of them feel differently inside.
You seem very cool about it.
Like I said, I’ve seen a lot of things and a lot of people … tragedy, comedy. I’ve seen powerful men put their hands up waitresses skirts and pour beer all over their heads. So ever since my childhood, I’ve never had much of a belief in authority. I’ve seen these men with their hands up waitresses’ skirts at night acting very righteous during the day in public. That’s why I hated ex-governor Suzuki. Who does he think he is? He is so close to industry that he doesn’t even consult with people before deciding on things like the Frontier Expo. Then he says, “It will be problematic if we cancel it.” It’s a pathetic joke! No wonder his followers were voted out. They were being punished.
Was there anything else about Nagasaki that was unique?
It was a very cosmopolitan kind of place. At school, it didn’t matter whether you were Japanese, Chinese or Korean everybody was shoulder to shoulder. Remember, it has a 450-year history of accepting foreigners. Ever since the Tokugawa Period the merchants had a system of paying off the Shogunate to leave them alone and let them govern themselves. There is s certain kind of freedom in towns that live off trade with the outside world. And I guess that freedom is a part of me as well.
You were there until you were 16. Did you feel a big gap when you came up to Tokyo to enter music school?
I thought Tokyo was a real hick town. The first time I met Yukio Mishima I was wearing Rubashka, the traditional Russian clothing. Mishima said to me, “Oh, so that’s what is ‘modern’ in the countryside.” I said, “What are you talking about? People from Edo used to go to Nagasaki to study Western culture.” And Nagasaki was the place where Western culture came from Asia’s biggest international city back then Shanghai. Tokyo was once nothing but empty fields. So I let him have it. “What are you talking about, you Tokyo farm boy!” I said.
What was Mishima’s reaction?
He was speechless. See, I was also surprised at the discrimination I found in Tokyo. When I was working part-time at a gay bar, I would hear people use words like “chankoro” [Chink] or “Chosen-pi” [discriminatory word for Koreans]. I’d say, “You guys don’t know anything, do you? We are all a mix of Chinese and Koreans anyway. Buddhism, Kanji, even the way of making kimono fabric all came from the continent. If you put them down, you’re putting down your own ancestors!”
You said you were fond of music since you were small.
I had a beautiful soprano voice. I even took private lessons, since I thought about being a classic singer. But after my voice changed and I started studying French in junior high school, I started singing chansons as a hobby.
I heard that you were very popular among the older boys at school.
Yes, they would call me “pretty” or “beautiful.” I was the recipient of many, many proposals.
When did you realize that you were gay?
When I was still quite small. In my father’s café, I would visit the rooms where the waitresses and the waiters would rest. The waitresses would be doing nothing but bad-mouthing the customers and their colleagues. But, back in the café, they’d have nothing but compliments for everyone. It wasn’t like that in the waiters’ room. Many of the young men wanted to be writers or painters those days, so there was lots of talk about literature and film. I was small, so I didn’t understand everything, but I felt very much at peace among them. The waitresses lived in a very real world: the guys were much more romantic.
So you saw a bad side of women when you were small.
Yes. They were surrounded by beautiful things, but they had no dreams. Their room was all messy with scattered cosmetics and clothing. In the waiters’ room it was messy, too, but with scattered books and paint tubes. For me, that was much more appealing.
I’ve seen a picture of you in junior high school that took my breath away. Is that the period in which you had your fist sexual experience?
Yes. With a high school boy five years older than I. I learned a lot about Western and Japanese art and literature from him.
Wasn’t Nagasaki very open about sexual matters?
That’s true. I would walk hand-in-hand with older students and people would just say, “Oh, how nice.” That’s why I never thought there was anything wrong with homosexuality. But after I came to Tokyo, people called me “pervert” and “faggot.” I was in shock! Where the hell was I? I couldn’t find anything intellectually stimulating in Tokyo. See, I had studied Japanese painting, so I knew a lot about Japanese history. I knew that there was a long history of accepting homosexuality, stretching hundreds of years from the civil wars to the Meiji Restoration. And even after that, at some schools. Yasunari Kawabata wrote about his love for a classmate in junior high school, right? I’d been reading a lot, so it seemed perfectly natural to me.
So you first experienced discrimination in Tokyo?
Yes. It was the first time I was told that what I thought of as natural behavior was not. Actually, the movement against homosexuality was part of the militarization of Japan. Because homosexuality doesn’t breed more cannon fodder, it’s anathema to the authorities. It’s the same with the Christian bible. Nations with larger populations were traditionally stronger, so they banned things that would result in a smaller population. It became religious dogma, and many homosexuals suffer, thinking it’s a sin. I think that’s ridiculous. I tell them, “Why don’t you become Buddhist?” (laughs)
How did you overcome the prejudice?
I’d say, “So, who are you? What makes you perfect? What special talents do you have?” People who criticize others think they have a right. But they have nothing at all. I attack right back at them. I always tell people who are discriminated against that their detractors are stupid, but that victims are responsible as well. You have to fight back if you don’t want to be attacked.
You don’t seem to have an inferiority complex.
Not at all. No one should have an inferiority complex. There is no one made up of 100 percent good and no one with 100 percent bad.
You went from a spoiled upbringing to family bankruptcy. Then you came to Tokyo and lived in some very impoverished circumstances. Did you ever lose confidence in yourself?
I’ve slept in the underground corridors of Shinjuku station because I was penniless. I was so faint from hunger I was close to dying. But I was always looking for a way to pull myself up. When Chaplin was asked what his best film was, he answered, “The next one.” That’s me. I always thought things would get better. I always thought positively, never negatively.
You first met Mishima when you were 16, working at a coffee shop for “beautiful young boys.”He came to do research. He was a hot-shot writer, so everyone was fawning all over him. But I’ve never been big on power and authority, so when he called me over to a seat near him I just
shrugged. He asked me, “Do you want anything to drink?” and I said, “No thanks. I’m not a geisha.” He said, “You’re not being very cute,” and I said, “I don’t have to be cute, I’m beautiful.” He was speechless.
What was your first impression of him?
His face was very pale. He was pretty intense. It was like his nerves extended several feet out of his heal, like lightning rods climbing out of his skull. I wasn’t really interested in that type of man.
But you later became very close.
I think I represented a culture shock to him. At the time, he had met every condition necessary to be called genius. And in the world of literature, he was very clever, he knew all the corners, all the ins and outs. But in private life he was immature.
He was spoiled by his upbringing?
Oh, yes. He was meant to follow the course of his bureaucratic parents from the elite Gakushuin school to Imperial University, and on to the Ministry of Finance. He was a gentle man so he couldn’t say no to them. He had this monstrous clash of wills inside: his parents’ wishes versus his own. I guess I was the one who pushed him over the edge and made him take responsibility for his convictions. His mother was furious. She blamed me for making him what he was.
You were a type of person that he’d never met before.
I’m sure he knew that people like me existed, but it was the first time he’d ever met one. For him, I guess it was like meeting E.T. He had always led a very passive life, but I had always lived a very active one, a life that I chose for myself. I’m sure he felt jealous that someone could actually do that from the time they were 16. He was always wearing a suit and tie, just because he was expected to. But I would wear whatever I wanted. Because of my influence, he started wearing jeans and leather jackets, he started boxing, he started doing what he wanted.
It was your influence that got him started on body-building?
No, he began planning his own life based on a painting of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. And a muscular body was a necessity for the type of life he wanted.
What do you think of his fascination with martyrdom?
I had seen a picture of St. Sebastian when I was young, but I’ve never believed blood is beautiful. Martyrdom is absolute nonsense! Are flowers going to bloom after your death? I told Mishima that. But he believed in the purity of young martyrs.
What was it about martyrdom that intrigued him so much?
It’s not easy to answer. There are many, many reasons and they all fed each other. In the end, it seemed like Morita was the one pushing Mishima. Mishima told Morita that he didn’t want him to follow him into death. I’ve had so many requests to write or speak about Mishima’s death, but I just don’t want to say anything more about it. It was something between the two of us, and it has nothing to do with anyone else.
What do you think of Paul Schrader’s move Mishima?
I was asked to appear in that, but I refused. Schrader came and talked to me. I told him some of what I knew and he said he had learned a lot that he didn’t know. But it’s better to leave Mishima mysterious. I guess Schrader did the best he could….
What did Mishima’s existence mean to you?
He was a good friend. Not a lover … I never felt that kind of emotion. But he was so pure that I felt sorry for him. People need to suffer sometimes to build character. It’s a lesson that young people should pay attention to these days as well.
Five years after your debut, you took the country by storm with a chanson called “Meke Meke.” Then, five years lager, you wrote a song for the working class called “Yoi Tomake no Uta.” I was shocked at the change. What a comeback!
But I didn’t change at all! Chansons were originally just local songs about sadness, joy and anger that were popular after the French Revolution. In Japan, all the reality was taken our of it, and chanson became this very sophisticated thing. But I wanted to put them back in the hands of the people, so I sang the very rough words of “Meke Meke.”
And you met with some criticism.
The “sophisticated” critics didn’t like the way I demystified chansons and brought them back to an earthy reality. But that was my way of fighting against them. I also wore frilly, feminine clothes so they called me “sissy-boy” and things like that. At that time I was trying to make a statement that I was against militarism and anti-war. I wanted to bring back the 2000-year-old aesthetic sense that led to the Taisho modern era and the art deco of Showa one that had been destroyed by the military. But the mass media ignored what I wanted to say. They thought I was just being cocky. The only ones who supported me were people like Mishima.
Your life has always been one of fighting against social mores. In fact, you were the first to openly admit your homosexuality, weren’t you?
I had seen a lot of people dying in sad circumstances, suffering from homosexual discrimination. I decided, if I became famous, that I would speak out and announce that I was a homosexual. Usually, people want to form activist groups for things like that, but I hate joining groups. I just did it myself. There were a lot of people, including women, who supported me in what I did.
It’s been forty years since then. Attitudes towards gays have changed a great deal, haven’t they?
Changed is not half the word for it! Young people now grow up with David Bowie. Boy George and the popularity of the “New Half” transsexuals. For kids now, accepting homosexuals is perfectly natural. People used to call me faggot and pervert, but today young boys on TV will say they like me without even hesitating. They don’t see me as either a man or a woman; they see me as Akihiro Miwa. In that sense, Japan is the most advanced country in the world.
Resilience to Humiliation: Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Light at the end of the struggle
The Oprah Magazine, April 01, 2002
(I thank Diane Cornish for making me aware of this text.)
The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and democratic leader of Burma has spent more than seven years under house arrest. In an excerpt from an addresss delivered by her husband, Kyi writes that trying tiema are the best teachrs.
How have to tread the long and weary path of a life that sometimes seems to promise little beyond suffering and yet more suffering need to develop the capacity to draw strength from the hardships that trouble their existence. It is from hardswhp rather than from ease that we gather wisdom. During my yuears of house arrest I learnt my m ost precious lesson from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, many of whose verses…. Reach out to that innermost, elusive land of the spirit that we are not always capable of exploring by ourselves.
If they answer not your call, walk alone;
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing
O thou of evil luck,
Open the mind and speak out alone.
If they turn away and desert you when
crossing the wilderness,
O thou of evil luck,
Trample the thorns under the tread,
And along the blood-lined track
If they do not hold up the light when the
night is troubled with storm,
O thou of evil luck,
With the thunder-flame of pain ignite
thine own heart,
And let it burn alone.
There are no words of comfort in the poem, no assurance of joy and peace at the end of the harsh journey. There is no pretense that it is anything but evil luck to receive no answer to your call, to be deserted in the middle of the wilderness, to have no one who would hold up a light to aid you through a stormy night. It is not a poem that offers heart’s ease, but it teaches you that a citadel of endurance can be built on a foundation of anguish. How can anybody who has learnt to ignite his heart with the thunder-flame of his own pain ever know defeat? Victory is ensured to those who are capable of learning the hardest lessons that life has to offer.
We live, we make mistakes, we suffer, and we learn. That is the cycle of life we have to follow. I have no words of wisdom to offer, no words of infallible advice that will enable you to avoid the pitfalls of human existence. I would wish you a happy journey, one that is far from trouble and defeat. But such fortune is not ensured to all of us. So for those of you who will have to face the usual and at times more-than usual quota of disappointment and sorrow, I would like you to remember on the darkest nights of the storm that there are those who do not know you but who understand your trouble and who care, because they themselves have known the absence of a comforting light. And in those times when your lives are full of light, I would like you to think of the ones who are deprived of the basic requirements of a meaningful existence, those who cannot even dare to hope that salvation is around the corner.
Evelin Lindner Teaches Again at Columbia University
Please share the information on Evelin Lindner's upcoming class on Conflict Resolution & the Psychology of Humiliation with anyone who might be interested. Thank you!
Course description: ORLJ 4859:
Conflict Resolution & the Psychology of Humiliation
(1 credit or noncredit)
No Instructor Approval Required
Instructor: Evelin Lindner, M.D., Ph.D. (Dr. med.), Ph.D. (Dr. psychol.)
A major cause of socio-political violence is the social process of humiliation. This course presents the theory of humiliation, showing that the capacity to humiliate and be humiliated are aspects of a dense web of "hot" filaments wired into the tissue of culture, giving it a potentially explosive character that is too little recognized.
Section 001: (CRN: 31737)
Workshop Dates: November 12, 13, 14
Times: Friday 4-8 pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm
For more information please visit
Evelin Lindner's class on Conflict Resolution & the Psychology of Humiliaition in New York
Reviews on "Somebodies and Nobodies" by Robert W. Fuller
Robert W. Fuller is the author of Somebodies and Nobodies, published by New Society Publishers in 2003.
On July 10th, 2004, the New York Times published an article on the subject of rankism, featuring Robert W. Fuller. It was further published in the Taipei Times, as well in the online version of International Herald Tribune. Please find the links below. Robert W. Fuller is a member of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies's Advisory Board.
How to Build a Better Future: The Story of Amaterasu
As I told you earlier, I am currently reading Paul Ray's and Sherry Anderson's extremely important book Cultural Creatives. (Ray, Paul H. and Anderson, Sherry Ruth (2000). The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.)
I am at present in Japan, trying to emerge myself into Japanese culture and learn from it as much as possible. The story of Amaterasu Omikami fascinates me. To my great surprise and joy, Ray and Anderson use this story to illustrate the path we may envisage toward a different, better future for our planet.
I let Ray and Anderson speak further down, I thank them most gratefully for their permission.
On page 346, Ray and Anderson conclude:
In every age where people have come through a time of immense change, they have done so with a wisdom tradition with elders, a community, and a guiding story to focus their energies toward life and hope. In the Exodus story, “the Dusty Ones,” as Thomas Cahill calls them, wandered “through Sinai’s lunar landscape, denuded of the ordinary web of life, baked in absolute heat and merciless light,” (Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews, New York, NY: Nan Talese/Doubleday, 1998, p. 142) sustained by a vision of a land flowing with milk and honey. In the New Testament, it is the city shimmering on the hill that calls to people. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is Shambala, and in Japanese Buddhism, it’s the Pure Land. Athens, Venice, and Byzantium were images of the ideal cities to Mediterranean peoples. And in every instance, the vision of the possible was a beacon and a resting place, a sustenance through times when the flow of life was hard to trust and life’s goodness hard to remember.
When the age of Modernism has ended and we have prepared the way for a new culture to take its place, our vision of the world we can create will help us through the deserts of the Between. We can begin right now to imagine a culture wise enough to make this passage and imagine our part in it. That is the first step in making it so.
Here comes the story of Amaterasu Omikami, told by Ray and Anderson on pages 343-344 of their book:
Epilogue: The ten thousand mirrors
No one today can remember the time when Amaterasu Omikami, the Great Mother Sun, hid herself deep n the Cave of Heaven and refused to come out. But to those who know the story, every mirror is a reminder that there once was a time when all the spirits of living things had to join together to bring life back to the Earth.
In those very early times, the spirit of every living thing was called its kami. The kami of the mountain was lavender and long. The kami of trees was great and green. Animals’ kami was smooth as silk. The kami of rocks and rivers was silent as the moon. All the strength of these kami poured forth from Amaterasu Omikami, and in her honor the great pattern of the seasons of planting and harvest was woven.
One day it happened that Amaterasu Omikami fell into despair because of the actions of her jealous brother Susanowo. Some say he betrayed the great Goddess by tearing through the rice paddies in a drunken fit of rage, until every plant in every field was broken and dying. Others remember Susanowo heaving a calf through the windows of the celestial weaving house, smashing the looms and breaking the sacred threads of connection between every living thing. But though some say this and some say that, everyone agrees on what happened next.
Amaterasu Omikami fled to the Cave of Heaven and locked herself inside. Without her light, all the realms of heaven and earth were plinged into darkness. The kami of the rise withered. The kami of the birds and animals and mountains and trees and fishes turned into frail gray ghosts. The Earth and all that was of it began to die.
Eventually, and none too soon, the kami gathered together to discuss what to do. “We must moan and weep outside her case,” some said. “That will never work,” said others. “Who wants to join a crowd that’s moaning and weeping?” Finally someone said, “Let’s have a celebration with songs that make us laugh and music that sets our feet tapping. And let’s have dances with lots of stomping and whirling. Surely that will bring the great Sun out of her cave.”
Everyone agreed, but they decided that one more thing was needed: a huge mirror. “If we reflect Amaterasu’s radiance back to her,” they said to each other, “maybe she’ll take heart and remember us. Maybe she’ll return to the Round of Life.”
But as soon as they thought of the need for a great mirror, their courage failed. Because not one of them had the strength to lift such a mirror. Then someone whispered, in a voice so feeble everyone had to strain to hear, “Let’s each bring a tiny piece of mirror and hide it in our clothes. As soon as Amaterasu Omikami peeks out of her cave, we’ll all hold up our shards at the same time and our tens of thousands will make a single mirror.”
And that is precisely what they did. The very next day, all the kami in the world collected outside the Cave of Heaven and slowly, almost inaudibly, started to sing. In time their voices rose high and rich into the night. But even while the kamis’ drums beat their irresistible rhythms, and even while the kamis’ feet stomped and tapped in splendid whirling dances, no one forgot to watch the door of the Cave of Heaven. Finally, very late in the evening, the cave door cracked open, and a single beam of light slipped out. Instantly, the kami lifted their slivers of mirror to Amaterasu’s radiance.
The goddess gasped in amazement. Fascinated, she took a step forward. And another. Soon she had stepped all the way out of her cave. Laughing and clapping her hands to see herself reflected in so many thousands upon thousands of forms, the Great Mother Sun danced all the way out of her hiding place and all the way into the wide blue sky.
Once again the kami of the mountains grew lavender and long. The kami of trees was great and green. Animals again had kami as smooth as silk. The kami of rocks and rivers and fish and flowers once more poured forth from the Great Mother Sun. And in her honor the pattern of the seasons of planting and harvest was again woven. And so it is to ths very day. (Ray and Anderson write in a footnote: The Amaterasu story is adapted from Jalaja Bonheim, Goddess: A Celebration in Art and Literature, New York, NY: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1997, and Carolyn McVickar Edwards, The Storyteller’s Goddess, San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1991; it is based on eight-century Japanese Shinto and Buddhist texts.)
On pages 345-346, Ray and Anderson explain how Amaterasu Omikami's story can serve us as a guiding story for the transition into a better future
Sometimes a primal story like this Japanese sun goddess myth can evoke a reality so immediate that it touches a core longing in our soul. The story’s images resonate with the truth of our own time. Amaterasu Omikami’s story is one of those ancient resonators. Maybe the betrayal that leaves every plant broken and dying recalls the way our ecology is being ruined. Maybe the tearing apart of the sacred threads of connection reminds us of how, in the name of progress, we are using up what belongs to our children. Or maybe the kami’s lack of strength and wisdom to stop the Earth from dying touches our own sense of helplessness to invent a future that will sustain the generations who will come after us.
But, as the story says, whether it’s this or whether it’s that doesn’t really matter. What everyone remembers is the solution: the countless beings who come together to create a collective mirror to save the Earth. Imagine them all, arrayed like some giant dish antenna facing the cave of heaven, singing and dancing and waiting for the exact moment to focus the creative fire of the sun goddess back to her. This is no passive mirroring. When the sun finally comes out to play, she’s moving fast. The kami need to be alert and sensitive so they can track her movements precisely. Otherwise, she’ll dance out of their focus. The spirit of everyone is needed here: to be awake, to sing their songs and dance their dances, and to help create this splendid, necessary emergence that will reweave the threads of connection for all of them.
There’s a place in the Arizona desert where this millennium-old story comes to life. It’s and Israeli-built solar collector made of an immense affray of free-standing mirrors. Every mirror reflects the sun’s light onto a single collector tower that heats water to over a thousand degrees to derive turbines for electricity. Each mirror is slightly curved and pivots independently under sensitive computer control to track the sun’s beams and keep them focused on the tower. All of them taken together make the equivalent of a gigantic parabolic mirror.
In the ancient story and in its high-tech analogue in Arizona, the same powerful solution is given: focus tens of thousands of individuals on the creative fire and let them move independently but with a common purpose, and the life-giving energies will be beyond belief. The power that can be focused by compound mirrors is vast, while that reflected by uncoordinated individual actions has little effect. An individual’s work may be personally satisfying and a testimony of great value, but like mirrors pointed in a hundred different directions, isolated actions can’t make the kinds of changes that are needed now. In a culture as individualistic as ours, the implications are clear.
Today, our fast-moving world requires that we make dynamic, sensitive responses and not repeat the old stories of our past. Certainly the Cultural Creatives are focusing on such responses, but their efforts alone will not be enough. All of us with our diverse capacities and deepest insights, our lively curiosity and compassion and all our intelligence, are needed. One grand mirror won’t do it. Our new story in one that requires ten thousand tellers and ten times more to be inspired by it. Our new face needs ten thousand mirrors, each with a unique angle of vision to catch the creative energy available now. And as the new stories and vision are coordinated into action, the new designs and new technologies have an enormous leverage that makes possible a sustainable world.
But technologies and cleverness alone will not save us. In today’s world, each of us needs to take a dual viewpoint. We invite you to consider the story of Amaterasu Omikami from two viewpoints: that of the ten thousand kami of life on the planet, and that of the sun goddess herself. If we only see from the perspective of the kami, we are like the initiate in the midst of the Between teetering between fear and trust, uncertain of who he is or where she is going. But if we also see from the perspective of the sun goddess, our shining, life-giving completeness will be reflected in every living thing. We will reflect the personal and the eternal truth of who we are.
Hiroshima and What We Can Learn Today
Yesterday I met with Koko Kondo, who survived the atomic bomb blast of August 6, 1945, less than a mile away from the hypocenter of the explosion, as an 8-months-old baby in the arms of her mother.
It was mind-boggling to listen to Koko's vivid account of her inner development in the aftermath of this horrible event, a journey from hatred to wisdom. I urged Koko, now 60 years old, to make this development accessible to more people than just her nearest environment. I urged her to start writing about the lessons she has learned in a book and, perhaps even more importantly, make a film, since she is such an authentic and impressive speaker.
Her account teaches us so many lessons. After utter destruction and humiliation, national as well as personal, through atomic bombs and their aftermath, what should the victims do? Should they hate? If yes, whom? Should they be ashamed, disengage and pretend that they were not there? Should they develop a worldview of exclusion? Or of inclusion? If yes, include whom? Should they forgive?
After our meeting, I asked Koko to help me buy the following book in the bookshop:
Hiroshima by John Hersey (1985, New York, NY: Vintage). In this book, her father’s faring is described, among others, and also Koko figures peripherally. She told me that Columbia University had made a list of those books worth taking into the 21st century, with Hiroshima taking the first place.
Back home, after our meeting, I read the book from a-z in a few hours.
Further down I have transcribed for you two articles that Koko gave me, depicting her life, both from 1991.
Koko needs encouragement (and a PC!). I would like to invite everybody who could provide support to her, to extend it to her. She is now leading the life of a wife of a minister, caring for the parish, and does not see how exactly she could make room for activities that concern her own life.
PS: I very much thank Diane Cornish for having brought me together with Koko.
Remembering Hiroshima’s legacy
By Lorna Moon
The Japan Times, Sunday, August 4, 1991
“We dropped in, and then we flew away as fast as we could go. I looked back and saw the mushroom cloud forming. I saw the whole city being destroyed and I wrote in my log ‘Oh, God. What have we done.’” [Captain Lewis, co-pilot in the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945]
“I’ve been here over 20 years and have never gone to Hiroshima,” admitted one member of the audience.
Another said that she was once compelled to take her family there when they came to visit from the States. “Halfway through the museum, I just kept my eyes glued to the floor and walked on blindly. I couldn’t look any more.”
But she came to listen.
Of the 15 or so expatriate women present, only a few could claim to have “experienced” war, and yet none were detached from war’s realities.
“When I was 20 years old, I met a man who had been a medical corpsman in Vietnam,” a young woman explained as the group waited for their speaker to arrive. “He told me once about a little village in Cambodia. The medical unit had won the trust of the people there by treating them, and had offered to vaccinate their children. Word traveled fast, and when the day came there were mothers with children from miles around, from neighboring villages forming a long line outside the tent where the vaccinations were being administered.”
In a faltering voice, she went on to say that word had gotten to other ears as well. On the morning after vaccination day, the medics awoke to see that they had been rewarded for their efforts with a pile of arm. The arms of all the children who had been vaccinated had been cruelly hacked off by some unseen force and left as a warning that their kind of help was not welcome there.
Sympathetic nods and exclamations showed that these women all held poignant images of war in their minds’ eye. A woman came in and fiddled with the air condition. It was a sultry June evening, and the banquet facility of the downtown Osaka restaurant could hardly accommodate the crowd.
She is tiny and haggard looking. Although she describes herself as a housewife “like most of you here tonight,” it becomes apparent that she is altogether extraordinary. Her voice carried the kind of authority and passion possible only from having been there.
Her name is Koko Kondo, and she was an 8-month-old baby in her mother’s arms when the house caved in on them in the split-second it took for the bomb to fell the entire city. Radiation sickness made it impossible for Kondo to give birth. She has two adopted children and has placed 19 adoptive children to parents overseas. Adoption is virtually nonexistent in Japan.
Koko Kondo is the international adviser to an organization called “Children As the Peacemakers,” for whose cause she had toured the U.S. on three separate occasions. In Moscow, her group personally presented a crystal glove to Mikhail Gorbachev as a symbol of our fragile Earth, asking him to “please help keep it.”
In December, she was called again to bring eight members of the group to Baghdad. While touring an elementary school there, they observed drawings that the schoolchildren had made: the American flag destroyed; Bush being hanged with Saddam Hussein standing triumphantly above. Class commended with the teacher shouting, “Long live Hussein! Death to Bush!” and the children echoing.
“This is just how Japan was in the 1940s during the war,” Kondo pointed out to the multinational gathering of women. “Perhaps the experiences of my childhood have driven me to work for peace.” She went on with her won life story.
Kondo’s mother regained consciousness to the sound of her baby crying in the darkness. Another beam collapsed, and in came a small sliver of light. She dug her way through the rubble toward it until she had freed herself and little Koko from the wreckage. Then the house burned.
Even before the bombing, the war had wrought terrible devastation on her family. Her father, the Reverend Tanimoto, was a minister who had been educated in the United States before the war. He was treated as a spy and shunned.
After the war was over, Kondo’s father had launched two great projects. One was called the Hiroshima Maiden Project, formed to help young girls who had been disfigured by the bomb. The other was called the Moral Adoption project, and its purpose was to give moral support to war orphans by sending them letters and Christmas cards.
Kondo had always looked people in the eye. Growing up among the victims, she learned to look at young girls whose eyes were crooked, who se mouths didn’t close completely, and she said to herself, “Some day in the future I’m going to something about this.”
Whom should she hate for the terrible injustice? In her young mind, she thought she should hate the man in the plane who had dropped the bomb, so she made up her mind to one day meet him and set things straight.
When Kondo was 10 years old, in 1955, her father made a trip to the U.S. with 25 of the “maidens” so that they could obtain corrective plastic surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. A television station got wind of the project and contacted Reverend Tanimoto, asking him to appear as a guest on “This is Your Life.”
Arrangements were made without his knowledge, to bring the rest of his family and a core of others. Kondo clung timidly to her mother and looked around. Several of the people she recognized; one, she didn’t. “Who is that man?” she asked her mother. It was Captain Lewis, co-pilot on the B-29 Bomber that had set the Hiroshima blast.
Yes, she had wanted to meet him, but it was a shock that it should happen so soon. She glared at him with intense hatred. That wasn’t enough, so she walked right up to him with the intent of confronting him directly, but Ralph Edward, the show’s host, beat her to it.
“How did you feel after you dropped the bomb?” he asked. Captain Lewis looked down at the frail little Japanese girl who had just marched up so boldly and he spoke directly to her. “We dropped it, and then we flew away as fast as we could go. I looked back and saw the mushroom cloud forming. I saw the whole city being destroyed and I wrote in my log, ‘Oh, God. What have we done?”
He had said it with tears in his eyes. Kondo thought of all the years she had carried such hatred for this man, but at that moment she couldn’t hate him. The thing to hate, she realized with surprising wisdom, is war itself. She put her little hand in his, and held it tightly throughout the remainder of the show.
That experience changed Kondo’s whole attitude. Years later, as a college student in the States, it occurred to her that if he hadn’t said what he did, she would have been carrying this hate around with her all her life. So she tried to find him to thank him. She learned that after appearing on that show, he had been called in by the Pentagon and given hell, after which he had died in a mental hospital. She learned from his psychotherapist there that he had once sculptured a statue of a mushroom cloud, with a tear drop running down its side.
The young adult kept all her experiences to herself. Every powerful feelings and painful memory was too difficult to bring out into the open at that point.
As a child, Kondo spent six months in the home of Peal Buck. She was very perplexed to see that this women had so many children, all different looking. Same were black, some Asian, some Caucasian.” She asked her mother, “How can they all be hers?”
Her mother then explained about adoption, and Kondo was very impressed. Pearl Buck gave birth to only one child, who was mentally disabled. Needing money to send her child to a special doctor, she decided to write a book. “People told me that mentally retarded children can’t do anything for society,” Pearl Buck had said to Kondo one day, “but I started writing to help my daughter, so she made me a Nobel Prize winner. Every child who is born has a purpose.”
Kondo resolved to emulate Pearl Buck.
The next memorable experience was a very painful one. Since Kondo had been less than a mile away from the hypocenter of the explosion as a baby, studies were being made on her body. Every year, she was sent to an atom-bomb clinic for a day of testing. In postwar times of very little food, Kondo really hadn’t minded that day off from school and the free lunch, but as adolescence advanced she became squeamish.
It never occurred to her to object. A young girl in that era in Japan just didn’t’ voice her feelings. Period. As usual, Kondo was instructed to go from room to room clothes in a hospital gown tied flimsily at the sides, under which she had to wear a strip of cotton cloth held with a drawstring, to cover her privates. When the testing was finished, she went to put on her clothes. A man stopped her. “Go into that door over there,” he said with ho further explanation, and Kondo obeyed.
It was an auditorium. She was suddenly confronted with glaring floodlights, beyond which she could hear the sounds of foreign voices in many languages. Then a voice in her own language said, “Pleaws eremove your goen.”
Why? Because she just happned to have been there on Aug. 6, 1945.
Subjected to the words humiliation imaginable for a modest, old-fashioned Japanese girl at puberty, kondo let her tears fall unchecked over her naked, quivering body and prayed, “God, get me out of there. I don’t want to have anything to do with Hiroshima again for as long as I live.”
When she finally got out, it was to attend college. Kondo never let on to her dorm-mates and peers that she was a survivor from Hiroshima. The first person she divulged that information to was her fiancé, a third-generation Chinese-American. The marriage was promptly called off, for the suitor’s uncle happened to be a physician who specialized in radiation sickness. “She can’t have children,” he warned.
Hiroshima would not be denied. It would follow her forever. She turned her back on her family’s church, for if there is a God, she thought, why did he let this happen to me? She didn’t want to have anything to do with that kind of God. It took several years, but eventually she got over her broken engagement. At age 30, she met and married an atheist, a rich documentary filmmaker. She was as far away from Hiroshima and God as she thought she ever wanted to be.
One day she said to her husband, “I was an 8-months-old baby in Hiroshima when it was bombed. If I don’t do anything for Hiroshima, then my life is meaningless.”
Her husband agreed to move there. Kondo couldn’t quit her job as easily as he could move his, so he went on ahead to her father’s house while she tied up loose ends in Tokyo. Months later, she arrived in Hiroshima to find that her atheist husband had become a Christian and was preparing to go into the ministry.
“So, I’m stuck with the church,” she jokingly said to the visibly moved group of women.
The women silently brushed tears away as Kondo told of her experiences in placing adoptive children. To be sure, some things that happen are horrible! She spoke of placing the child of a 10year old rape victim; of caring for and placing an abused child who had been burned with cigarettes, who was afraid of taking a bath because her abusive parent had tried to drown her.
To be sure, there are some things that are so horrible that it seems we cannot even bear to know about them. On the other hand, people like Koko Kondo come out of the rubble of Hiroshima.
Hiroshima Baby: An Interview with Kondo Koko
By Winnie Inui
Kansai Time Out, August 1991
(a fuller account of this appears on the book Hiroshima, by John Hersey)
At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, Koko was an eight-month-old baby, in her mother’s arms, when the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima. Early that morning her father, Reverend Tanimoto Kiyoshi, pastor of the Nagaregawa church, had gone out of town to help a friend move some furniture. Mrs. Tanimoto was talking with one of the parish women at the time of the blast and the parsonage collapse on them. It was Koko’s cries that brought her mother back to consciousness and frantic efforts to dig them all out before flames consumed the wreckage of their home. They were less than one mile from ground zero.
The events of that day eventually led to Koko Kondo’s appearances on the American TV show, ‘This is Your Life,’ to meet the pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb. Winnie Inui interviewed her about this somewhat questionable confrontation, under the guise of entertainment, and other aspects of her remarkable life as a ‘survivor.’
Koko, you were a babe in arms when the bomb was dropped. What do you remember of how it affected you and your family?
Of course, I don’t remember the actual bombing but it affected my father’s whole life from then on. He spent the next days trying to relieve some of the horrible suffering around us; but much later I realized he’d felt guilty because, even though he was a clergyman, his first concern had been for his own safety and that of his family. This, and the haunting memories of all those he couldn’t help, led him to dedicate himself to working for peace. He coined the world-famous slogan ‘No more Hiroshimas!” (a fuller account of this appears on the book Hiroshima, by John Hersey)
One of the programs he started, with Norman Cousins [editor of Saturday Review] was Hiroshima Maidens, which arranged for terribly disfigured victims of both bombs to be taken to New York for corrective surgery. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of meeting orphans my parents were trying to find support of and these grotesquely scarred young girls who came to the church for help.
Growing up among the horrors and aftermath of atomic war, how did you feel about it?
When you are young, you have very strong convictions and I felt that whoever dropped that bomb on Hiroshima was to be hated forever. I thought, if I ever met him, I would punch him in the face. But my father was preaching love, healing and forgiveness and carrying it out in his daily life so I couldn’t tell anyone about my ‘evil’ desire for revenge.
How did the eventual meeting with the pilot come about?
It was spring, 1955; my father was in America with a group of 25 Hiroshima Maidens when my mother received a request from NBC TV for us all to appear on This is Your Life a popular weekly program, hosted by Ralph Edwards. We were to leave for Los Angeles next day., I was only 10 and it was tremendously exiting: the night train to Tokyo, passports from the Foreign Office, my first plane ride and very mysterious. Absolute secrecy was crucial to the success of the show, in order to surprise the main ‘star’ my father!
What happened really changed my life: I met Captain Robert Lewis, the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, which had dropped the bomb. At first, I was completely stunned, then I remember trying to stare at hm really fiercely. His turn came to describe his own impression of the bombing. As they flew over the horrendous destruction a second time, he said he wrote in his log, “Oh God, what have we done!” He was almost overcome with teas and could hardly speak and I too was in tears and very moved. So I went over to him and held his hand tight. I realized at that moment that hating people was not the way; it’s war itself that’s evil. The relief was enormous as though a great burden had been lifted from my heart.
What happened after the show?
My father left on a lecture tour of U.S. churches to raise funds for the Hiroshima Maidens. My mother and the rest of us had a wonderful time, staying with Pearl Buck on her farm in Pennsylvania. She had eight adopted children, as well as her own daughter, and her love and devotion to all of them really impressed us. So when, four years later, we discovered a baby girl on the altar in our Church, my parents adopted her as their fifth child.
How about your own life, back in Hiroshima?
I was officially recognized as a bomb victim and had to undergo annual examinations so that doctors and scientists could study the effects of rational on the human body. As I reached puberty, I began to feel like a guinea pig and found the examinations more and more humiliating. After one very unpleasant visit, I vowed to give up the identity of a bomb victim. I never went back.
I wanted to get away from Hiroshima altogether and start a brand new life. Through my father’s friends, I was able to go to high school in America and eventually graduated from American University, Washington D.C. But Hiroshima still overshadowed my life. I feel in love with a Chinese American and was going to get married; but his uncle turned out to be a doctor, specializing in research on radiation. He realized I must have been affected by the atomic bomb and wouldn’t accept me as his nephew’s wife.
I was no longer interested in a God who let such cruel things happen so I decided to go back to Tokyo and find a rich man who was not a Christian. I finally met my husband, a documentary film maker, and we got married. But things were difficult in the film business and I persuaded him to return with me to Hiroshima, where my father could help us find work.
So then the story came full circle?
Yes! After spending some time with my father, my husband decided he wanted to be baptized. Not long after, even though I opposed it, my husband began studying for the ministry. He’s now pastor of Kita-Senri Church.
We have two adopted daughters and I am also ‘following in father’s footsteps’, working for peace through an organization called Children as the Peacemakers, which was started in 1982 in San Francisco by Patricia Montandon. We arrange for women and children from all over to travel to the word’s trouble spots, meet government leaders and communicate our message of global harmony. I’ve been to Belfast, Moscow and, last December, to Baghdad. I am ready to go anywhere next, wherever the need is, as soon as the phone call comes.
Then I read about Koko's father in
John Hersey (1985). Hiroshima. New York, NY: Vintage
In midsummer of 1950, Cousins invited Tanimoto to return to the United States for a second tour, to raise money for the World Federalists, for moral adoption, and for the peace center, and late in August Tanimoto was off again. Marvin Green arranged things, as before. This time, Tanimoto visited two hundred and one cities, in twenty-four states, over eight months. The high point of the trip (and possibly his life) was a visit to Washington, arranged by Cousins, where on February 5, 1951, after having lunch with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he gave the opening prayer for the afternoon session of the Senate:
Our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the great blessing Thou has granted America in enabling her to build in this last decade the greatest civilization in human history…. We thank Thee, God, that Japan has been permitted to the one of the fortunate recipients of American generosity. We thank Thee that our people have been given the gift of freedom, enabling them to rise from the ashes of ruin and be reborn…. God bless all members of this Senate….
Virginia’s Senator A. Willis Robertson rose and declared himself “dumbfounded and inspired” that a man “whom we tried to kill with an atomic bomb came to the Senate floor and , offering up thanks to the same God we worship, thanked Him for America’s great spiritual heritage, and then asked God to bless every member of the Senate.”
World Conference of the International Association of Educators for Peace, July 20-24, 2004, in Acapulco
World Conference of the International Association of Educators for PeaceJuly 20-24, 2004, in Acapulco, Mexico
The goal of the 7th World Conference of the International Association of Educators for Peace is to contribute to a culture of peace, tolerance, diversity and respect for human rights from a civilian point of view, towards the consolidation of democracy worldwide.
The conference will consist of plenary sessions throughout the morning, with the participation of distinguished national and international specialists and educators. Simultaneous workshops, with various subjects will take place in the afternoons.
Also, cultural and artistic exhibitions will be presented, as well as materials, publications, and audiovisual projects relating to human rights and a culture of peace.
• Sustainable development and a culture of peace before the challenges of globalization.
• The right to education and education on human rights: meeting the demands of democracy.
• Exclusion, poverty, indigenous peoples rights and cultural diversity facing globalization.
• The Universal Declaration of Emerging Human Rights.
• The integrality and enforceability of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in Latin America: the challenge of a culture of peace.
Panels and workshops:
1. Experiences on education on human rights, democracy and peace to encourage civil society.
2. Militarization and terrorism today: threats to pacifism and a culture of peace.
3. Learning to educate on human rights and democracy. Perspectives and proposals to train educators.
4. Educating cities and education for democracy in Latin America. Training public servants.
5. Environment and regional development facing the challenges of the 21st Century.
6. Indigenous peoples, education on human rights and a culture of peace.
7. Education for peace. Experiences around the world from schools.
8. A culture of peace from a gender perspective.
9. The challenges of tertiary education in the face of globalization, democracy and a culture of peace.
1. All participants must be previously registered in order to have access to all activities, as well as the selected pannel and/or workshop. Each one will have an Academic Coordinator responsible for the elaboration of the program and coordination of activities.
2. Ten simultaneous panels and/or workshops, with various subjects (9 previously established and one open workshop), will take place in the afternoons during the first four days of the conference with a total duration of 16 hours.
3. The closing day of the conference, the Acapulco Declaration and the Balance of a Decade of Education on Human Rights: a non governmental perspective will be presented.
You are welcomed to register at http://www.amdh.com.mx/AIEP/Index.html
Searching for Alternatives to Old Paradigms
As I told you earlier, I am pesently reading the following book:
Ray, Paul H. and Anderson, Sherry Ruth (2000). The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
I just read a paragraph, on page 164, that, I think, describes well our quest for a sustainable world, be it with regard to sustainability for the ecological or social realm.
Like Bill McDonough, most Ecologists want a completely new kind of economy based on something other than industrialism. They want technologies that are good enough for humanity’s survival: “appropriate technology,” or small-scale, local technology that does not use much energy or materials, or that doesn’t pollute and that recycles everything. Developing such technology is not about just challenging the location of a nuclear power plant, freeway, or chemical plant, or getting better regulation and pollution controls. It is about creating a benign industrial base, using technology in new ways. Many Ecologists would love to find new technologies that would put the big energy companies, big auto companies, and big resource companies (timber, agribusiness, mining, chemicals) out of business altogether. They’re on a search for alternatives to practically every technology and practically every kind of business that will not, to use Bill McDonough’s phrase, “create intergenerational remote tyrannies for our children’s children’s children.”
Ray, Paul H. and Anderson, Sherry Ruth (2000). The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
Equality and Egality, Egalization and Globalization by Dakshinamoorthi Raja Ganesan and Lindner
Raja Ganesan was so kind as to send us his thoughts on the topic of equality and dignity, from an Indian point of view. I would like to share his reflections with you, see further down.
However, before that, I paste in some passages from my book manuscript on humiliation for you, passages that touch upon the topic of equality versus equal dignity, and introduce a word I coinded, namely egalization.
I hope, you find this discussion stimulating!
The following is taken from my book manuscript on humiliation:
Once low, always low! How peripheral characteristics can be ranked and essentialized
As you already noticed, I prefer to speak about the vertical ranking of human worth and value, and less about inequality, hierarchy, or stratification. This is because the significant point for my discussion is not the absence or presence of hierarchy, inequality or stratification, but whether human worthiness is ranked or not. Hierarchy, inequality and stratification can very well coexist with the absence of ranking human beings as unequal. Robert W. Fuller (2003) describes this most vividly in his book Somebodies and Nobodies; according to Fuller, humiliation is not the use of rank, but the abuse of rank. A pilot, for example, in a plane, or the captain of a ship, is the master over his passengers when in the sky or at high sea; clear hierarchy and stark inequality characterize this situation. Yet, nonetheless, the pilot need not look down on his passengers as lesser beings.
In other words, using concepts such as hierarchy, inequality or stratification, would be somewhat misleading here, because they would invite statements and objections such as, “There have always been differences between people! Human beings have never been the same and never will be! Are you a dreamer who believes that we could or should all to be the same? This is not only impossible, but also boring!”
Such statements or objections are irrelevant to the discussion of this book and would represent a grave miscomprehension of its focus. The point that is highlighted here is not the absence or presence of sameness or equality, but the absence or presence of the vertical scale of human worth and value. Diversity and difference can, without a problem, go together with sameness of value and worth; there is no automatism that necessarily links diversity and difference to rankings. The vertical scale of human worthiness is conceptually independent of hierarchy, inequality or stratification. (I will come back to this point later and explain that there indeed are some links that, after all, may be conceptualized.)
The important point at this stage is that a system that condones the vertical scale of human value essentializes hierarchy, inequality, and stratification. In such a social framework, a street sweeper not only does a lowly job, the lowliness of the task is essentialized as inner core of his entire being: He or she is a lowly person. Something that could very well be peripheral to this person’s essence, namely the task of sweeping the street, is turned into her core definition: this person is deemed to be of lower human value and worth. This act of essentialization is what we find in many, if not most, traditional societies.
A street sweeper and a bank director could very well be seen as fellow human beings of equal dignity, albeit with different occupations; what differentiates them could very well be pure neutral difference and diversity. However, in traditional societies, this difference is being ranked and essentialized. Neutral difference is turned into lesser and higher. My Fair Lady, the musical, illustrates beautifully how Professor Higgins regards the poor flower girl Elisa as a lower human being, even after she has learned higher manners. Her essence, in his view, is fixed in lowliness through her initial poor status in society. For Professor Higgins nothing can turn Elisa into a human being of equal worthiness as compared to him and his higher cast.
This is taken from another text by Lindner:
The word egalization has been coined by Lindner in order to match the word globalization and at the same time differentiate it from words such as equality, because the main point is not equality. The point is rather equal dignity, even though there is a connection between equality and equal dignity. (The connection is “hidden” in the human rights stipulation that equal chances and enabling environments for all are necessary to protect human dignity.)
The term egalization is meant to avoid claiming that everybody should become equal and that there should be no differences between people. Egality can coexist with functional hierarchy that regards all participants as possessing equal dignity; egality can not coexist, though, with hierarchy that defines some people as lesser beings and others as more valuable.
If we imagine the world as a container with a height and a width, globalization addresses the horizontal dimension, the shrinking width. Egalization concerns the vertical dimension, reminiscent of Hofstede’s power distance. Egalization is a process away from a very high container of masters at the top and underlings at the bottom, towards a flat container with everybody enjoying equal dignity.
Egalization is a process that elicits hot feelings of humiliation when it is promised but fails. The lack of egalization is thus the element that is heating up feelings among so-called “globalization-critics.” Their disquiet stems from lack of egalization and not from an overdose of globalization. What they call for is that globalization ought to marry egalization.
In this book globalization is defined as the coming together of humankind, both physically and psychologically in One single global village. Globalization promotes the coming-into-being into an interdependent global village combined with an awareness of how small and vulnerable the planet is that humankind inhabits. Both, growing interdependence as well as increasing awareness, are driven by myriads of large and small processes that coalesce and are powered by a growing world-wide communication network (telecommunication, air traffic, satellites, and television).
This technology promotes the perception of the world as One single global village on a small planet in a vast universe. Globalization is thus the physical, mental and emotional coming together of humankind on the tiny planet Earth. The process of globalization affects the hearts and minds of an ever increasing number of the world’s population. Numerous new tasks emerge, such as how to proceed with what we could call world formation.
If we imagine the world as a container with a height and a width, globalization addresses the horizontal dimension, the shrinking width. Globalization is when humankind huddles together on a planet that is viewed as a tiny human homestead lost in a vast universe, as opposed to a large Earth taking the prominent seat in the middle of the universe.
One of the most unique aspects of globalization is the waning of several villages in favor of One global village. In the current global village the security dilemma gets weaker, a win-win context emerges due to knowledge becoming the main resource, and all concepts that were previously connected to outside events fade. Words and concepts such as war, or soldier lose their anchoring in reality. Thus, globalization is seen to entail deep prosocial and pacifying elements. It is the lack of egalization that causes people to feel unease about the process of globalization.
Raja Ganesan wrote on 04.07.2004:
Thank you for your interest in my views on human dignity under non-egalitarian ideologies. They are based on my observations and reading of Western and Indian sociological literature--the second one mainly secondary sources. First of all absolute equality is a myth. Such a state can never come about. As communism tried supposing we try for absolute economic equality: there will still be stratification in terms of physical beauty and attractiveness to the opposite sex! One man or woman will be liked by many, many members of the opposite sex and a few by not anyone. The Indian tradition --in theory, IN THEORY--has found a way out to ensure that one's basic dignity as a human being depends upon his or her behaviour vis-a-vis and not on birth. How far does he or she conform to societal role expectations is the received criterion in the traditional Indian ethical literature. Of course, it has come under historical distortion leading to a travesty of the original intention is a different matter.I will illustrate this point through a story. There was prostitute in a village. She conformed to the ethical expectations regarding her behaviour. She cohabited with whoever came to her--whether the person was young or old, handsome or ugly, true to the spirit that is supposed to infuse her calling. Still she was marginalised by society because she was a prostitute,after all. She was forbidden from taking her daily bath in the river that girded the town. It was supposed to be a very sacred one bathing in which gave the person final liberation--the summum bnoonum of existence as per Indian philosophies. She was unhappy and did not know what to do. As the legend goes,god made the river go through her courtyard because she was true to her profession! That is, according to the true Indian tradition,the prostitute had earned a superior dignity in the eyes of god because of her superior devotion to her calling. And one who has renounced his world --even if it is to escape from the debts he had incurred thanks to a profligate way of living and whatever his status before renunciation-- is deemed worthy of reverence --that is, more than the dignity accorded to those who stay put within the social order. That helps such 'prodigal sons'as a safety valve to 'escape into dignity' at anytime.This reverence persists to this day and it is exploited by pseudo-renunciates! There are so many such stories that attest that ancient Indian thinking had recognised the impossibility of absolute equality and yet found a way for everyone --whatever his status in its rigid caste hierarchy-- to earn dignity superior even to those higher in the caste status. Unfortunately the spirit of this ethos has evaporated. Of course, the rigid caste hierarhy too is crumbling. Class is taking its place. Afer all, as Daniel Bell pointed out, capitalism has one scheme of stratification and socialism has a different one, but stratification is ubiquitous across the ideological spectrum around the world.
Monthly News Bulletin of Dignity International: July 2004
DIGNITY INTERNATIONAL: MONTHLY NEWSBULLETIN - July 2004
* Third Global Linking & Learning Programme on ESC Rights - Call for
* Mekhong Region Linking & Learning Programme on ESC Rights Call for
* International Forum on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, 10-15 July
* MDG Campaign Committee established in Tanzania Dignity´s Thomas Nzumbi a
* Dignity´s Chairman Ton Waarts endorses strengthening of relations with the
* Progress towards an ASEAN Mechanism on Human Rights
* Brazil: at least 6.5 million people live in favelas
* Joint NGO statement on the Quilombos communities in Alcântara, Brazil
* Invest in Health Not War - NGOs join forces to promote health
* Global Support for the International Criminal Court Reaffirmed
* UN Secretary-General recognises the value of civil society’s work
* Legal Resources for the Right to Water: International and National
* Housing and ESC LAW Rights Quarterly
* Guns or Growth: assessing the impact of arm sales on sustainable
* Manual on the Right to Water contributions are welcomed.
Forthcoming Events Highlights
* 2004 Social Forum on ESC Rights, 22-23 July
* Congress on Cultural Rights and Human Development, 23-27 August
*** Third Global Linking & Learning Programme on ESC Rights (1-10 December
2004), Alcochete Portugal Applications are now open for the third Global
Linking & Learning Programme on ESC Rights organised by Dignity
International, in partnership with International Human Rights Internship
Program (IHIP), Forum Asia and ESCR-Net and with the support of NOVIB
(Oxfam - Netherlands).
The overall goal of this programme is to strengthen the knowledge and skills
of those working to empower people living in extreme poverty through the
adoption of a human rights framework and thereby contribute to build the
capacity of grassroots movements to better promote and defend basic ESC
The programme will bring together twenty "catalysts" from the different
world regions. These persons will be in a position to spread knowledge and
skills they have acquired from the programme and to introduce/implement what
they have acquired within their own organisations or community. These
participants will be drawn from development organisations, and groups
fighting for social and economic justice. Priority will be given to women
and those coming directly from the grassroots organisations.
To know more about the programme, check our website at
http://www.dignityinternational.org/2004trainingcourse.html . You can also
download directly the Call for Applications from
http://dignity.3pontos.net/doc/2004callforapplicationfinal.doc and the
Application Form from
http://dignity.3pontos.net/doc/2004applicationform.doc. All applications
must reach Dignity International by 15 August 2004.
*** Linking & Learning Programme on ESC Rights of the Mekhong Region, 14-20
November 2004, Chiang Mai, Thailand Call for applications are also open
for the Mekhong Region Linking and Learning Programme on ESC Rights. The
programme will cover Burma, China, Laos, and Vietnam. This programme is
organised by The Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), in
partnership with Dignity International, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and
Development (APWLD), Asia Regional Resource Center for Human Rights
Education (ARRC) and with the support of NOVIB. The call for applications is
already open. You can find the Presentation of the course and the
Application Form at
*** International Forum on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights - This international
forum organized by the Thai Working Group on Human Rights and HIV/AIDS will
be held on the occasion of the 15th International AIDS Conference from 10
and 15 July 2004, Bangkok. The Thai Working Group on Human Rights and
HIV/AIDS strongly felt the importance to bring the issue on Human Rights
Based Approach in relation to the HIV/AIDS for further discussion with the
expectation that the process might lead to a more comprehensive plan of
action, to the eradication of prejudice and to the enhancement of a better
treatment to the affected people.
Dignity will participate and contribute to this International Forum.
Dignity´s Board Member Acharn Banton Ondam will speak on the theme “Rights
Based Approach & HIV/AIDS: An Innovative Way to Promote Human Dignity.
For further information, please contact Boonthan Verawongse at Dignity
International Asia e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
*** Thomas Nzumbi, Dignity´s regional coordinator for East Africa has been
appointed to the Steering Committee to initiate the Millennium Development
Goal Campaign in Tanzania. The Steering Committee was formed following a
visit to Tanzania by Salil Shetty, the MDG Campaign Coordinator.
*** Dignity´s Chairman Ton Waarts endorses strengthening of relations with
the development agencies - Dignity International Chairman Ton Waarts visited
the International Secretariat, in Alcochete, Portugal on 15 June. Aye Aye
Win, the Executive Director introduced him to the new recruits to the
Dignity team, Simone Andrade, Learning Associate and Luis Gavinhos,
Information Technology Officer. The team updated the Chairman on the
progress on activities to date as well as on the progress made to implement
activities for the remainder of the year.
A large part of the discussions focussed on further programme development
including the proposal for a Centre for Human Rights Based Approach (RBA)
for Learning to build a longer term relationship with a few key development
agencies intent on integrating human rights in development work. This
proposed Centre would serve as an extension of the existing Capacity
Building Programme for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Dignity
International. "We are definitely on the right track" said Ton Waarts.
*** Progress towards an ASEAN Mechanism on Human Rights Asia is the only
region in the world without a regional mechanism on human rights.
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) organised a working group
meeting on the Future ASEAN Arrangements for Promotion and Protection of
Human Rights from 17-18 June in Jakarta a few days prior to the 37
Ministerial Meeting of ASEAN.
In a recent press release, Forum Asia welcomed the openness of the ASEAN
secretariat in receiving the civil society delegation of the Working Group
for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism. The Working Group has put
forward a recommendation to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting for the creation
of a joint working group between the ASEAN government and civil society to
consider a possible human rights mechanism for ASEAN within the year.
For the full press release and statement by Forum Asia´s secretary General
Somchai Homlaor, see http://www.forumasia.org/29June04.html
Bertrand Ramcharan Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a
message to the working group stating that “respect for human rights can help
prevent conflicts; can advance development; and can help promote
poverty-reduction strategies that focus on the neediest”. Full message at:
*** Brazil: at least 6.5 million people live in favelas - Miloon Kothari,
UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing highlighted that the very
serious situation in Brazil with respect to homelessness, landlessness,
housing deficit and housing inadequacy results from the
historic discrimination against the black community and indigenous people,
and the marginalization of the poor.
The Special Rapporteur carried out a mission to Brazil upon the invitation
of the Brazilian Government from May 30 to June 12. The purpose of the
mission was evaluating the fulfilment of the right to housing in the
country. On the occasion, Social Watch joined the Special Rapporteur's
Read the complete news, the Preliminary Observations by the Special
Rapporteur; Report on the Mission, by Social Watch and the Joint
Declaration On the respect of the Quilombos communities’ human rights at
*** Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Global Justice Brazil
and Social Watch joined forces to issue a declaration on the humanr rights
situation of Quilombos communities in Alcântara, State of Maranhão, Brazil.
Readers are invited to send supportive emails to the Declaration, to put
pressure on the Brazilian Government to take steps to solve the
deteriorating situation. See the joint declaration at
*** Invest in Health Not War - Organisations from around the world that
campaign for human rights, the alleviation of the HIV epidemic and women's
rights to reproductive choices called for an International Day of Action on
24 June 2004 to say to the Bush Administration: Invest in Health, Not War!
The organisations include the South African based Treatment Action Campaign
working to ensure access to affordable and quality treatment for people with
HIV/AIDS. The demands of the organisations include: reduce Military Spending
and War Actions: spend More Money on AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria,
Malnutrition and Poverty; Help Ensure that the World Health Organization's
Plan to Treat Three Million People with AIDS by 2005 Receives the Resources
it Needs to Succeed; stop Undermining Public Confidence in Safe, Effective
Anti-AIDS Medicines; stop Using AIDS Money to Marginalised Minorities and
Undermine Access to Condoms and Reproductive Choices; stop Pursuing a
Pseudo-Scientific Response to the HIV Epidemic; stop Using Bilateral
Pressure to Undermine the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health; and
give the Promised $15 Billion for AIDS to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB
and Malaria (GFATM) - Not the US President's AIDS fund (known as PEPFAR).
The Treatment Action Campaign will be organising the people´s health summit
to “Build a People's Health System” from 2 to 4 July 2004. The People's
Health Summit will focus on the following key issues: Assess the
antiretroviral treatment rollout; Identify how to build greater involvement
of communities with the delivery of health services, with emphasis on the
antiretroviral rollout; Ensure that national, provincial and local
governments comply with their constitutional obligations to ensure that all
people in South Africa have access to health care services that respect
their autonomy and dignity; and highlight the health inequities between the
public and private sectors, between rural and urban areas, and between
provinces. For further information, see
*** Global Support for the International Criminal Court
Reaffirmed -Legitimacy of the Security Council preserved - After weeks of
negotiations and faced with continued opposition, the US government withdrew
its request for renewal of the Security Council resolution exempting its
peacekeepers from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. This
was announced after informal consultations during which it became clear that
a last-minute US proposed compromise text would not get the required
Currently the ICC treaty has 94 state parties. The most recent ratifications
are from Burkina Faso and Congo Braziville. For further information, check
out the website of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court
*** Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his opening remarks at the Security
Council debate on “The role of civil society in post-conflict peacebuilding”
(NY, 22 June) affirmed that a dialogue between UN and Civil Society is not
an option, but a necessity. It has to be a two-way dialogue, on the basis of
complementary efforts. Civil society constitutes, in his words,
“bridge-builders, truth-finders, watchdogs, human rights defenders, and
agents of social protection and economic revitalization”. Kofi Annan also
declared that civil society organizations should be included in the UN’s
deliberative processes, including those of the Council, since he believes
that “Council members can benefit from the expertise, focus and insight
which civil society groups bring to the table”. He also made a reference to
the Report recently released by the High Level Panel on UN Relations with
Civil Society, complimenting the measures proposed to increase the
participation of civil society in UN’s humanitarian and development work.
Kofi Annan’s speech at: http://www.un.org/apps/sg/printsgstats.asp?nid=989
For the Report: http://www.un.org/reform/a58_817_english.doc
See also Press Release SC/8128 at:
*** Centre on Housing Rights AND Evictions (COHRE) launched two new
- Legal Resources of the Right to Water International and National
Standards - The Right to Water Programme COHRE, an international human
rights NGO, has released a detailed guide to international and national
level provisions and case law that give effect to the right to water. It
surveys international and regional treaties and declarations on human
rights, armed conflict, environment and development as well as national
Constitutions, legislation and court judgments. The guide demonstrates the
solid basis for the right to water in international law and the manner in
which this right has been implemented in several national legal systems. The
Guide provides a user-friendly commentary on the implications of these
standards and on means to implement legal standards on the right to water.
This publication is the eighth volume in COHRE’s Sources series, which set
out the legal basis for key aspects of housing rights. The publication can
be downloaded at www.cohre.org/water. To obtain a hard copy, please contact
- Housing and ESC Law Rights Quarterly (Vol.I, June 2004) A publication
produced by the COHRE ESC Rights Litigation Programme, which focuses on
recent cases and housing legislation. It seeks to provide advocates and
other interested persons information on national and international legal
developments related to housing and ESC Rights. This publication can be
found at www.cohre.org/downloads/Quarterly_01.pdf.
*** According to Oxfam Report’s - GUNS OR GROWTH: ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF
ARM SALES ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - Governments are sacrificing
development goals for arms exports therefore failing to assess the impact
those exports have on poverty. Needed resources are driven away from health,
education and putting at risk human security and Human Rights protection. An
International Arm treaty is needed to guarantee human rights and sustainable
Oxfam wrote this report for the Control Arms campaign - a joint initiative
of Amnesty International, Oxfam and International Action Network on Small
For the full report: http://www.oxfam.org/eng/pdfs/Guns_or_Growth.pdf
*** The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), the World Health
Organisation (WHO) and the Science and Human Rights Programme of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science are preparing a MANUAL
ON THE RIGHT TO WATER to be launched still this year. Interested
organisations and persons are called to contribute with comments and also
with the issues and case studies they would like to see addressed on the
Manual to email@example.com. A draft of the manual will soon be released for
public review on the respective websites. Check:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health or www.cohre.org/water or
http://shr.aaas.org and give your opinion.
FORTHCOMING EVENTS - HIGHLIGHTS
*** 2004 Social Forum on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 22-23 July,
Geneva - Since 2002, the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and
Protection of Human Rights has been organising an annual Forum on economic,
social and cultural rights, known as Social Forum. The theme of the 2004
Social Forum is “Poverty, rural poverty and human rights” and will be
composed of four panels: “Poverty and human rights: empowerment of people
living in poverty”; “rural poverty and extreme poverty: special groups”;
“The role of human rights in the development of operational strategies to
address poverty” and “Recommendations on elements for incorporating human
rights into poverty reduction strategies”. The Sub-commission has already
firmly expressed the need of a human rights perspective in the fight against
poverty (Resolution 2003/13).
NGOs are encouraged to participate in the social forum. For further
information on the social forum and registration see:
*** Congress on Cultural Rights and Human Development - Barcelona Universal
Forum of Cultures 2004, Spain 23-27 August 2004 The objectives of the
Congress are to suggest new ideas and proposals to develop the contents of
Cultural Rights and include cultural elements in the Human Development Index
of the United Nations. Furthermore, the Congress aims at constructing a
reference point in order to explore the role of culture in the 21st century
in what will be the most significant meeting since the Mondiacult in México
in 1982. http://www.interarts.net
CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES
For the updated Calendar of Activities for 2004, please see:
THIS NEWSBULLETIN CAN BE ACCESSED DIRECTLY FROM THE WEB AT
http://dignity.3pontos.net/doc/news_2004july.doc or selected items can be
seen at the Dignity International website at