|Special Issue, Spring/Summer 2011
Rebuilding Japan: Hope Never Dies
“Mono no aware” for the Realistic Hope for Post-March-11
Reflections on the Recent Japanese Disasters
Fire, Water & Wind
My Teacher’s Name is Life
Poems to Japan with Love
Part II – [Click Here]
Jennifer B. Chu
At long last, the special issue on rebuilding Japan is complete. Last month, June 18, marked the 100-day anniversary of the devastating events that took place in Japan on March 11th 2011. We want to thank all of you for your patience with us and sincerely hope that you will find the contents of this issue timely and helpful.
Five articles are featured in this issue, relevant to the situation in Japan. Dr. Paul T. P. Wong begins with an article on tragic optimism, highlighting the vital role of hope in desperate times. In addition, we are grateful to have two Japanese psychologists share with us their unique insight on the Japanese disasters that swept through their homeland, and their personal perspectives. Masafumi Nakata takes us into the minds of the Japanese people and their collective response through the examination of the concept of “mono no aware”. He relates the Japanese psyche in these dire times to Frankl’s concept of tragic optimism and Morita therapy. Yoshi Takano’s article takes a slightly different focus, addressing the issue of the conflicted attitudes towards the use of nuclear power and human authority in Japan and how one may resolve this dilemma through activation of the intrinsic positive energy within us. These articles are followed by the generous contributions of two of our members. Tara Miller Boothby addresses negative emotions and adaptive ways of coping in order to rebuild one’s life after disaster. Charlene Majersky identifies the importance of regarding life experiences as our best teacher regardless of the circumstances. A compilation of select, insightful and encouraging quotes from Viktor Frankl have been included in this issue. We believe that Frankl’s writings will help readers better appreciate his concept of tragic optimism.
Additional articles and poems on coping with disaster and trauma, which may be of interest to our friends in Japan, are listed below:
This issue’s featured organization is Lean Sensei International founded by David Chao who is an internationally known expert on “lean”.
Our members have always been important to the development of INPM. Two members are featured in this issue, Kimberly Miller and Zisuh Tankeng. In addition, we would like to extend our gratitude towards our major sponsors.
We are grateful to Anne (Richards) Thompson who has bequeathed $20,000 to support the work of INPM. We have included a brief biography about her and her relationship with INPM. We also want to acknowledge the generous contributions from our major sponsors, Carrina Chan and Sunshine Coast Health Centre. Since our membership dues only cover a small fraction of the operational expenses of INPM, we appreciate any amount of monetary contribution from our dedicated members and subscribers. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Dr. Paul T. P. Wong directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, as a gesture of recognising the good work of our members and subscribers, we have also included in this issue, a list of their recent publications and scholarly activities.
We thank you all for your continued interest and support in the work of INPM and hope that we can all partake in meaningful life journeys together, supporting and encouraging one another and lifting each other up. In the words of Viktor Frankl: “Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better” (1985, p. 154). Together, we can empower the nations through meaning and meaningful living, and make the world a better place.
|Rebuilding Japan: Hope Never Dies
Paul T. P. Wong
March 11th 2011, the fateful day on which so many people’s lives were changed forever and Japan as a nation will never be the same again.
Even for a people so used to earthquakes and so prepared for big ones like this, the triple-punch of the tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear plant meltdown came as a shock to the system, making it the most serious crisis in the history of post-war Japan.
Memories and images of the catastrophe and the aftermath will linger on for a long, long time: the queasy feelings in the stomach, the persistent violent tremors, the frightening sound of 25-meter waves sweeping away everything in their paths, the smell of the smoke that filled the air, the ensuing pandemonium and frantic rescue activities, the tired blank looks in people’s eyes, the tears and wailings, the wasteland of rubble and debris, and the eerie silence of ghost towns. But hope will not die and life is stronger than crashing waves.
Image source: Poster design “Japan Earthquake” by Adam Chang
“Mono no aware” for the Realistic Hope for Post-March-11: Japan through the Lenses of Japanese Culture and Frankl’s Tragic Optimism
The devastations of the March 11 great earthquake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan are far beyond anyone’s imagination. Behind tangible loss and damage, including the loss of countless lives, are the permanently shattered hearts and minds of those who survived and yet lost everything – family, friends, homes, and businesses. The magnitude of the damages inflicted on their lives by these tragic events is certainly incomprehensible. In spite of the unfathomable challenges and uncertainties the people of Japan have to face, the majority of the survivors have responded to the abrupt disruptions, losses, and subsequent hardships in their lives with calm acceptance, orderliness, civility, and firm resolve to rebuild their lives and the nation even stronger. Although they do not yet know exactly how they will do this, they are determined to do anything and everything necessary to achieve this collective goal.
Reflections on the Recent Japanese Disasters
Japan is currently trying to recover from the major damage left by the earthquake and tsunami. In addition to this, Japan is now facing problems with out-of-control nuclear reactors. Seeing Japan, my home country, in this state of disaster especially with the nuclear reactors, gives me a sense of sadness, and at the same time irony. Fear of radiation was always present in Japan ever since the tragic events of World War II. While growing up in Japan, I heard many tragic stories about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and these past events affect the people of Japan to this day. The Japanese people are very sensitive to any issues having to do with nuclear weapons and every effort is made not to support the use of nuclear weaponry. When news of the nuclear reactor disaster arose, it was a striking wake-up call.
Image source: Green Prophet at http://bit.ly/nwf6cD
Fire, Water & Wind
The world is emptier – Nicholas Wolterstoff
Over the past several months we have seen troubling times. Many headlines have read with words of devastation and destruction, from the tsunami in Japan, to the tornados in the United States, to the massive fires in Northern Alberta. At times like these, tragedies can feel more normal then devastating.
Having tragedy happen closer to home can put things into perspective; knowing that fires have swept through Alberta’s north and destroyed 40-50% of a major northern community is a reminder that tragedy can happen to anyone, at any time, and in any place.
And when tragedy strikes, the world can feel empty. It can be difficult to move forward, at times it may feel we have lost our direction or even our footing. As well, there are the secondary traumas that come along: financial devastation, loss of home, loss of prized possession and familiarity, and above all loss of loved ones.
My Teacher’s Name is Life
As a health care administrator and leader, I believe that being self-reliant is a valuable strength and gift. While I fully realize the important roles of support systems and colleagues to engage with, exhibiting a solid internal locus of control (or sense of self, the core of your being) is an important quality for leading effectively and successfully in today’s complex and ever-changing health care arena.
I have been blessed and extremely fortunate through the years to have mentors and teachers whom have served as inspirational and spiritual guides in my life. In the Theravada Buddhist meditation tradition, teachers are frequently referred to as spiritual friends; the Buddhist term for spiritual friend is Kalyana Mitta.
Image source: “Texture” @ the Japanese Garden by Aki Sogabe
Poems to Japan with Love
|The Inspirational Words of Viktor Frankl
Compiled by Jennifer B. Chu
From Man’s Search for Meaning (1985) and The Doctor and the Soul (1986):
Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in its spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all. (1985, p. 58)
If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. (1985, p. 88)
The way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom—which cannot be taken away—that makes life meaningful and purposeful. (1985, p. 87)
This intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness, desolation and spiritual poverty of his existence. (1985, p. 59)
What is to give light must endure burning. (1985, p. 86)
“Et lux in tenebris lucet”—and the light shineth in the darkness. (1985, p. 60)
A man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. (1985, p. 86)
Man does not simply exist, but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. (1985, p. 154)
We witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions. (1985, p. 157)
It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions. (1985, p. 153)
There were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become a plaything of circumstance. (1985, p. 87)
Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. (1985, p. 86)
It did not really matter what we expected from life but rather what life expected from us. (1985, p. 98)
Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human. (1986, p. 26)
For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best. (1985, p. 179)
There was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer. (1985, p. 100)
A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. (1985, p. 101)
He who has a “why” to live can bear with almost any “how”. (Nietzsche)
Suddenly I saw myself standing on the platform of a well-lit, warm and pleasant lecture room…Somehow in rising above the situation, above the sufferings of the moment, and I observed them as it they were already of the past. (1985, p. 95)
Frankl quotes Spinoza’s Ethics: “Affectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio simulatque eius claram et distinctam formamus ideam.” Emotion, which is suffering, cease to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it. (1985, p. 95)
One of the main features of human existence is the capacity to rise above such conditions, to grow beyond them. Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary. (1985, p. 154)
I had no intention of losing hope and giving up. For no man knew what the future would bring, much less the next hour. (1985, p. 103)
It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future.(1985, p. 94)
Human life, under any circumstances, never ceases to have a meaning, and that this infinite meaning of life includes suffering and dying. (1985, p. 104)
In accepting the challenge to suffer bravely, life has meaning up to the last moment…Life’s meaning is an unconditional one, for it even includes the potential meaning of unavoidable suffering. (1985, p. 137)